European food industry: Maintain open market
As the European countries closed borders this week in response to the coronavirus pandemic, European farm, food manufacturing and trading groups issued a joint statement that it is important to maintain the European Union’s single, open market to ensure everybody in Europe continues to have access to safe, quality and affordable food and drink products during this period.
“Following the important and necessary emergency measures taken by EU member states, our members are reporting increasing difficulties in their business operations. Delays and disruption at country borders have been observed for the delivery of certain agricultural and manufactured products, as well as packaging materials,” the groups said. “There is also concern over the movement of workers, notably due to certain border closures and travel restrictions, as well as potential labor shortages as staff follow national movement restrictions to mitigate the crisis.
“Given that the agri-food supply chain is highly integrated and operating across borders, any blocks of supply and workers will inevitably disrupt business. Our ability to provide food for all will depend on the preservation of the EU Single Market. We therefore urge the European Commission to work collaboratively with us and to do everything in its power – with a consistent and clear strategy – to ensure an uninterrupted flow of agricultural produce, food and drink products and packaging materials (e.g. through ‘green lanes’), as well as solutions to prevent and manage labor shortages, so that the food supply chain is able to function effectively.”
The statement was issued by Copa and Cogeca, the united voice of 23 million farmers and 22,000 agri-cooperatives in the EU; Food and Drink Europe, which is made up of 294,000 businesses that buy 70% of all EU agricultural produce and is Europe’s largest manufacturing industry and their 4.7 million workers; and CELCAA, the EU umbrella association representing more than 35,000 trading companies that cover the trade in cereals, grains, oil, sugar, animal feed, wine, meat and meat products, dairy and dairy products, fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, tobacco, spices and nuts, cut flowers and plants and general produce.
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