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Luis Planas welcomes decision by European Commission to authorise private storage of olive oil

Monday 14 October 2019

The Acting Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Luis Planas, welcomed the announcement of the presentation of a proposal to authorise the private storage of olive oil in Spain, made by the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, during the European Union Agriculture Council meeting in Luxembourg.

This proposal consists of financing the storage of olive oil by mills and cooperatives, and of thus facilitating a price recovery. The measure thus acknowledges the serious situation affecting the olive oil sector in Spain, with sale prices below production costs, particularly for dry olive cultivations.

The announcement took place following a meeting held last week between Luis Planas and Phil Hogan in Brussels. At the meeting, they analysed the gravity of the situation of the olive oil sector in Spain and the added concern over the potential consequences of the decision taken by the USA to impose additional customs duties on the export of Spanish agri-food products, due to the Airbus Case, including the olive oil sector.

Luis Planas stressed that this is "very positive" news for the olive oil sector, which has had a complicated campaign this year, with prices well below average. "We need rapid intervention so as to correct this situation", apart from all the structural actions being carried out by the Government of Spain, added the acting minister.

Luis Planas indicated that, although not all the specific parameters of the measure are known, it will be implemented immediately, following its examination by the European Union Management Committee for the Organisation of the Agricultural Markets and formally approved by the European Commission.

The last occasion on which private storage was applied in Spain was in 2012, when the price of olive oil at source stood for several weeks below the reference price. Although this is not the case on this occasion, the situation of low prices, together with a record harvest and the uncertainty deriving from the customs duties on exports to the USA, justify the adoption of this measure by the European Commission.

'Airbus Case' duties

The acting minister is taking part in the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting in Luxembourg, which has discussed the state of the situation of the regulations on the future Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), as well as the imposition by the United States of additional customs duties on agri-food products as a result of the Airbus panel, among other issues.

As regards the Airbus Case, Luis Planas insisted, in a statement to the media, that until 18 October, contact between the European Commission and the US Administration must continue to try and avoid these very harmful additional duties for the agri-food sector, which the Government of Spain considers to be unacceptable.

However, if they are applied in the end, "we must be ready", said the acting minister, who asked the European Commission for support and corrective measures on matters of promotion and the markets for the affected products, an issue addressed at the Council, upon a request from Spain, France and Italy.

Spain calls for CAP budget to be maintained

In the debates on the reform of the CAP, Spain considers it a priority to maintain the budget at the same level as in the current financial period. "We are getting close to the reality of the budget dawning", said Luis Planas, in relation to the work to be carried out this coming week, when the Heads of State and Government of the EU will hold the European Council to discuss the EU budget for the period 2021-2027.

Spain, France and another 15 countries have lent their support to a statement highlighting the importance of this policy for tackling the climate and environmental challenge, as well as for maintaining rural ones.

The statement calls for a "good and speedy" agreement, because there is a clear and real social demand to transform the way in which food is produced, against a backdrop of climate and environmental emergency that is increasingly more palpable, and hence "we need to maintain the budget", stressed Luis Planas.

The acting minister also pointed out that it is necessary to send out a message of calm to farmers, livestock breeders and woodland farmers so that they know they will be able to count on sufficient resources to address this change that society demands. He insisted that if things are to be done differently, then it is also necessary to count on different instruments so that the transition towards new forms of production can become a reality.

He also called for a specific debate on the measures of the Common Organisation of Agricultural Markets, above all, in a context of recent trade conflicts, Brexit and market volatility. Current mechanisms are not always sufficient in all situations and their usefulness and capacity for mobilisation are limited on occasions.

The acting minister urged the regulations on transition to be addressed so as to decide how to tackle moving from the current CAP to the future CAP.

The meeting was also used to discuss the future post-2020 EU Forestry Strategy. Forestry policy is very important for the European Union as a whole, to which end Spain has expressed its backing for the drafting of a new European Forestry Strategy, as well as its support for the Commission Communique to protect and restore forests around the world.

Non official translation