This article originally appeared in German at German Economic News
Article Summary: Retaliatory Russian agricultural sanctions against the EU are killing European farmers. Thousands of farmers from across Europe are protesting. Keeping European farmers alive in the face of the cutting off of one of their biggest export markets (Russia) is costing the European Union money it can ill afford to lose.
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The vociferous protests of farmers in Brussels have paid off. The EU is giving the farmers 500 million euros. Thus, the price decline will be compensated because of the Russian sanctions.
Accompanied by violent protests of thousands of farmers, the EU countries have agreed on initial measures against the fall in prices of agricultural products. The EU Agriculture Ministers approved on Monday in Brussels a package of measures the European Commission, which provides, inter alia, emergency aid amounting to 500 million euros.
In front of the EU Council building where the ministers met, nearly 5,000 farmers from Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Germany protested with more than 1,500 tractors, according to police. They caused the traffic in and around the Belgian capital to be partially paralyzed, and some pelted police with eggs. The police used water cannons.
In addition to the 500 million euros the European Commission wants the rules on state aid to stay flexible. The EU countries must make direct payments from mid-October to up to 70 percent directly to farmers. In addition, according to the Luxembourg EU Presidency, a new program will be launched for the private storage of pork. The intervention prices, in which the state acts as purchaser and thus leading to lower supply should be temporarily increased. A sum must still be agreed, said EU Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen.
Also barriers are to be broken down and the advertising of agricultural products is to be strengthened to increase the demand in the EU. Reducing farmers’ costs must also be a priority, said the Luxembourg Agriculture Minister Fernand Etgen.
For the price decline the EU blames, among other things, the Russian embargo on agricultural products as well as the decline of competition in China, where supply has increased.