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AGRIFISH: EU will continue to assist in transporting agricultural commodities from Ukraine

Sep 26, 2022

Agricultural production and logistics in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, agricultural aspects of industrial emissions, fishing opportunities for 2023 and food labelling were discussed today by EU Agriculture Ministers at the Council in Brussels. The meeting was chaired by Czech Agriculture Minister Zdeněk Nekula (KDU-ČSL) and attended by Ukrainian Agriculture Minister Mykola Solskyi.

"Global food security is challenged by the unprecedented and barbaric Russian aggression. People around the world are dependent on the timely access to Ukrainian agriculture production. European Union Member States are determined to continue in their assistance in transporting wheat, maize and other cereals to consumers in countries outside the European Union. We will continue to develop the logistics for Ukrainian export and connect businesses in order to better meet supply and demand for agricultural production from Ukraine," said Agriculture Minister Zdenek Nekula.

While the partial reopening of Ukrainian ports is positive and overall grain prices have decreased over the summer, the situation in Ukraine and beyond remains difficult. In order to make exports of commodities from Ukraine via the solidarity lanes even more efficient, the EU has set up a network of contact points in Member States and an EU-Ukraine Business Matchmaking Platform. This is a forum that brings together Ukrainian farmers, logistics and transport operators and buyers of agricultural products, together with national authorities from both the EU and Ukraine. The platform now brings together more than 700 businesses in the EU and Ukraine to find solutions for the export of agricultural commodities from Ukraine.

It was the improvement of logistics in the export of Ukrainian agricultural commodities by land that was mentioned in the speech by the Ukrainian Minister of Agriculture Mykola Solskyi. Given the uncertain situation regarding sea routes, it is important to have sufficient capacity, especially on rail corridors. According to the Ukrainian minister, the utilisation of rail corridors to ports in Germany is a major problem, and he also asked European ministers for help in securing enough containers for the transport of agricultural commodities. He also mentioned the construction of vegetable oil pipelines, which would allow the smooth export of oils from Ukraine.

Ministers also opened today a debate on fishing opportunities for next year for the EU and the UK, Norway and coastal states. "In the second half of each year, fishing quotas are set for each member state for the following year in EU and non-EU waters. The Czech Republic, as a landlocked country, will lead this discussion, which is also important for food security, as catching fish for consumption is essential for most EU countries. At the same time, this also needs to be addressed in terms of sustainability and care for the seas and oceans. The discussions with the countries outside the European Union play a crucial role in this process," said Minister Nekula. The final terms for individual countries are expected to be agreed in December this year.

During a working lunch, the Agriculture Ministers and the Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides discussed food labelling and the regulation on the provision of food information to consumers, which the European Commission (EC) has been preparing. Member states agreed that it is essential to maintain access to clear and reliable information for consumers. It is equally essential to continuously educate consumers to use this information when choosing their dietary composition. The proposal for mandatory nutrition labelling on the front of food packaging must await an impact assessment by the EC. The debate may be further advanced at a conference on the subject organised by the Presidency in Brussels on 10 November this year.

The EC also commented today on the revision of the Industrial Emissions Directive. This covers around 50,000 large industrial installations and intensive livestock farms in the EU. Under the Directive, these installations must comply with emission conditions using activity-specific best available techniques. Under the presented proposal, the new directive would cover in particular intensive pig and poultry farms, and would also include cattle, which have not been covered until now. Member States generally agree that agricultural production cannot be put on the same level as industrial production in terms of emissions, as agriculture plays an important role in benefiting the environment. In addition, this difficult year must be taken into account, with farmers facing high input prices, drought and the need for food security. The extension of the directive could have a negative impact on small and medium-sized enterprises in particular.

Other topics addressed by the ministers were the issue of large carnivores, the proposal on completion of the impact study on pesticides and eel populations. During the meeting, Agriculture Minister Zdeněk Nekula held a working meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart Mykola Solskyi.

Vojtěch Bílý
Spokesman of the Ministry of Agriculture