K. Gerhards, the Minister: Latvia will continue an active work on finding solution at the EU level to dual quality of food
On May 9, 2019, Kaspars Gerhards, the Minister for Agriculture, participated at the meeting of Ministers for Agriculture of Visegrad States, Baltic States, Balkan States and France: “Dynamic Visegrad for Europe”, that took place in Slovakia, the city of Stara Lesna. There were two Ministerial sessions during which a position of the involved States was discussed on the “Bioeast” initiative and dual quality of food.
At the end of the first sessions of the Ministerial meeting, K.Gerhard, the Minister, signed the joint declaration of Ministers for Agriculture of Visegrad States on the “Bioeast” initiative. The initiative aims at facilitating activities of EU-13 States in the area of science, improving implementation of scientific achievements and knowledge sharing in order to get involved in the European research and innovation programs, to facilitate bioeconomics, to set up network among Member States and facilitate a better experience sharing. At the session, Latvian interests were represented in the initiative of the Central and East Europe for knowledge-based agriculture, aquaculture and forestry in bioeconomics.
Kaspars Gerhards, the Minister: “European Union Member States must work jointly, setting up joint objectives. The more Member States join “Bioeast” the more sizeable the joint impact we will create. We – Latvia – can be a significant part of this initiative. We have several strong research institutions, including the Latvian Agricultural University, the Latvian State Forestry Research Institute “Silava” as well as the Institute of Food Safety, Animal Health and the Environment “BIOR”. Making use of this scientific “force”, we are able to become a significant part in implementation of this initiative to always facilitating the development of knowledge-based agricultural bioeconomics both in Latvia and all over the Europe”.
Whereas, in the second Ministerial session, Latvia’s position was declared, and discussed were the topical proposals from the European Commission as well as further actions were outlined, regarding the dual quality of foods and the necessity to develop a joint EU-scale methodology for food. During the session, representatives of Member States agreed on further activities as well as, after receiving results of food tests, carried out by Member States, to assess these results.
Kaspars Gerhards, the Minister: “All the EU Member States must have products of identical quality irrespective of the State, where these products are sold. It is an absurd situation that in nowadays when modern production technologies are available, allowing production of identical products, up to the tiniest indicator this opportunity is used for opposite aims. Namely, to produce different products under the same product label that is used in marketing, at the same time creating the dual quality products. Each EU inhabitant is entitled to products of identical quality irrespective of the State where it has been acquired. Therefore, we will continue our efforts to develop European Union standards and actions to put an end to this unfair commercial practice.”
Whereas, on May 8, 2019, a bilateral meeting with Didier Guillaume, the Minister for Agriculture and Food of France, was held, where discussions addressed the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and budget. During negotiations, K. Gerhards, the Minister, pointed out that both Latvia and all three Baltic States together have formed the joint position on determining of the amount of EU direct payments in the next programming period as until now, Latvia has been placed in an unfavorable position as compared with other EU Member States, receiving a considerably lower EU support. Didier Guillaume, the French Minister for Agriculture and Food, declared that France is supporting a fair and equal distribution of direct payment to EU Member States, emphasizing at the same time that it is also important to work on the calculation methodology of direct payments.
Additional information on “Bioeast” initiative:
Latvia is the first of the Central and East European EU States (EU-13), which has approved the National Strategy of Bioeconomics – 2030.
The initiative aims at facilitating activities of EU-13 States in the area of science, using their own potential and the opportunities, offered by EU, improving implementation of scientific achievements and knowledge sharing in order to get involved in the European research and innovation programs, to facilitate bioeconomics, to set up a macro-regional network among Member States, facilitate a better experience sharing and promoting information on benefits of bioeconomics.
On May 8-9, 2019, the Minsters of the involved States met in Slovakia to express the needs of the Central and East European States and to sign a declaration on the further role of the “Bioeast” initiative, which is an important instrument in developing the European partnership in the area of a sustainable productivity and agri-ecological intensification.
Additional information on the dual quality of food:
Already in 2017, the Minister for Agriculture of Slovakia addressed COM on the dual quality of foods and at the same time, presented to the EU Council of Ministers for Agriculture and Fishery, the comparative test results on foods, acquired in Slovakia, Hungary and other EU States. This issue has already been addressed at the high-level meetings of Visegrad group, in 2017 at the meetings in Poland and Hungary.
In June 2017, at the high-level forum, dedicated to a better operation of food supply chain, an agreement has been achieved that the COM Common Research Center will develop a coordinated testing methodology.
In October, 2017, in Bratislava, at the high-level meeting, the agreement has been achieved that all the EU consumers are equal.
On September 13, 2018, it was determined that assessment of the dual quality products will be carried out at several stages and the first stage will be comparing of food labeling information.
In January, 2019, Slovakia with the support from several States, invited the COM to update the issue of dual quality standards and commence the EU-scale testing, according to a uniform methodology.
The first testing results, upon verifying labeling, show non-conformities. Negotiations have been commenced with the industry to clarify the reasons. Latvia, currently, is awaiting further information and joint recommendations to continue the work already commenced.
Information prepared: Santa Vaļuma
Adviser to the Minister