Since the 2014 Russian import ban on a range of European Union (EU) agricultural products, the European Commission has agreed several measures to support EU farmers.
On 7 August 2014, the Russian Federation introduced import restrictions on a range of EU agricultural products notably meats, dairy products and fruit & vegetables. The ban runs until 31 December 2017.
The ban has clearly had an impact on EU agri-food exports to Russia, which dropped from around €11.8 billion in 2013 to around €5.6 billion in 2016, although exports showed a slight (0.8%) recovery in 2016 compared to the year before.
In contrast, overall EU exports of agri-food products have continuously increased over the same period, reaching a record €131.1 billion in 2016, 1.6% higher than in 2015 and 29% higher than in 2011. Only cheese, fruit, poultry meat and milk powder, products under embargo, had lower export values than in 2013, however, cheese and poultry meat exports increased in volume.
European Commission sets up emergency measures, helps to find alternative markets
The European Commission, with the help of EU member states, has closely monitored the different markets affected by the ban and taken a range of emergency measures, notably for the dairy sector and for fruit & vegetables (rules on reallocation and exceptional support) and that are designed to help producers address market pressure, stabilise prices and find alternative sales opportunities.
In order to find alternative markets outside the EU, the European Commission has also offered additional promotion measures to support export diversification (an additional €30 million in EU funding for promotion in 2015, on top of the €60 million allocated annually as part of the budget for the common agricultural policy). EU rules allow such measures when there is serious market disturbance, a loss of consumer confidence or other specific events.
In addition, in October 2015 the European Commission agreed a support package worth €500 million to help those farmers most affected by market difficulties, including €420 million in national allocations to support the dairy and livestock sectors in particular, with flexibility for member states to decide how to target this support.
And in July 2016, the European Commission agreed a further solidarity package worth €500 million including aid worth €350 million aimed at the dairy sector in particular.