EU announces exceptional support for wine, fruit and veg

The European Commission announced exceptional support measures for the wine sector on Tuesday, July 7, while also announcing support for the fruit and vegetable sectors.

The commission adopted the additional package of measures as the wine sector is one of the hardest hit agri-food sectors by the Covid-19 pandemic as demand for the product fell rapidly when bars and restaurants were closed.

The first set of exceptional measures were announced on April 22 and included private storage aid for the meat and dairy sector.

The additional package of measures, announced yesterday, for the wine sector are outlined below.

The new measures include:
  • A temporary derogation from the EU’s competition rules;
  • The increase of the EU’s contribution for wine national support programmes;
  • And the introduction of advance payments for crisis distillation and storage.

Looking at these measures in a little bit more detail, the temporary derogation from the EU’s competition rules amidst severe market imbalances allows “operators to self-organise and implement market measures at their level to stabilise their sector and in the respect of the functioning of the internal market for a maximum period of six months”.

This will allow groups to plan joint promotion activities, organise storage by private operators and commonly plan production.

The EU’s contribution for all measures of the national support programmes will increase by 10%, bringing the total to 70%.

The advance payments for distillation and storage can cover up to 100% of the costs and “will allow member states to fully utilise their national support programmes”.

Support for fruit and vegetables

The European Commission also announced that the fruit and vegetable sectors will also benefit from an increase in the EU’s contribution to programmes managed by producer organisations. The contribution will increase from 50% to 70%.

This programme will be relevant to Ireland as we currently have four producer organisations involving vegetable and mushroom producers. CMP Ireland is an example of one of these organisations and represents 90% of mushroom producers in the country.

The extra support may be used to help producers to finance that the Covid-19 pandemic has brought about as well as helping with promotional activities.

Calls for proposals for promotional programmes

The commission has also launched two calls for proposals for promotion programmes that aim to support the sectors most affected by the crisis, including the wine sector. The calls are open until August 27, 2020.