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 products’ scope was further extended in October 2017. The ban runs until 31 December 2019.
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 €6 billion in 2017. After the year-to-year declines following the ban, in 2017 the EU agro-food exports to Russia have recovered and increased by 20% in comparison to 2016. Russia moved up to become the EU's fourth largest export destination for agri-food products after the US, China and Switzerland.
Overall EU exports of agri-food products have continuously increased since the introduction of the ban, reaching a record €138 billion in 2017, 5.2% higher than in 2016 and 15% higher than in 2013. Only, fruit, poultry meat and milk powder (products under embargo) had lower export values in 2017 than in 2013.
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 has taken a range of emergency measures, notably for the dairy sector and for fruit & vegetables that are designed to help producers address market pressure, stabilise prices and find alternative sales opportunities.
In the case of fruits and vegetables, the last emergency measures were phased out on 30 June 2018. Since the introduction of the import ban, the EU granted to EU producers of fruit and vegetables €500 million of aid corresponding to withdrawals of 1.7 million tonnes.
As for dairy sector, 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.
Additionally, 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.
Further to that, in order to help boost exports to alternative markets outside the EU, the European Commission has increased promotion funds from €142.5 million in 2017 to €188.5 million in 2018 and €200 million in 2020. Promotion policy rules set out how EU funding can be used for information and promotion initiatives both inside and outside of the EU.