The European Commission has remained tight-lipped as to what, if any, market interventions and supports can be expected for the agricultural sector to help cope with the ferocious economic impact of Covid-19.

In a video-conference call with the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee earlier today, Wednesday, April 15, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Janus Wojciechowski highlighted the need for the commission to know its budget for next year before intervening in the market.

Commenting, the minister said “there is hardly any money in the current budget” to take actions such as Aids to Private Storage or other intervention measures.

“The first issue that was mentioned…is market intervention – private storage; using different methods of intervention on the market,” the commissioner told MEPs.

“This is also a request made by member states and farmer organisations. I understand this problem very well.

“There is an obvious need in some sectors and the number of them is growing – so there is a need for market intervention. We are aware of this as the commission.

There are legal instruments available, but my request is that we need to not only activate a given instrument but also [have] the money. We are looking for every possibility to help farmers out – but we should remember that we have a certain budget for market intervention.

The commissioner said that, under the 2020 budget for market instruments, most of the allocated money has been shared out, adding:

“We have been analysing each and every possibility to find money for market interventions in the existing budget.

“We will be informing you about our future actions as we progress but I think we have more opportunities to help if we know what the budget will be for next year.”

Commenting on the Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF), the commissioner outlined his belief that the EU should do its utmost to allocate the largest amount possible under the new MFF for market intervention, adding:

“The situation – of course we would want it to improve – but one should foresee that the problems are going to increase in many different areas as well.

None of us was prepared for such a major crisis and the CAP [Common Agriculture Policy] is not sufficiently prepared to face such a major crisis, and market intervention measures were originally designed for occasional problems in one of the markets at one of the times to just fix that.

“We have such solutions as: private storage; and the green crops production limitation; and so forth. Such measures are applied – but the scale of this crisis outdoes the possibilities of the current budget,” Commissioner Wojciechowski warned.

“That is why we are looking and searching of possibilities of solutions from other sources. We’re looking for such solutions outside the CAP.

“We are analysing all kinds of actions to find money,” the commissioner said.

There is hardly any money left in the current budget so we must do the utmost…we have a decision on the table [to decide] as soon as possible on the new budget so that there is the most money in it.

“Then we can make decisions on market interventions having perspective of the next budget – but we must have a clear situation on that one,”Commissioner Wojciechowski concluded.