European Commission welcomes the agreement of the EU and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) for exports of apples and pears. On a technical, phytosanitary level the EU and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) agreed a specific protocol of measures to be taken by growers of apples and pears and competent authorities in the EU Member States. The next step is the publishment of the draft rule for public consultation. According to the European Commission an effective approval should be possible before the next season starting September 2016, but it will require full engagement and commitment by all parties.
The EU Health and Food Safety Commissioner Mr. Andriukaitis, the Trade Commissioner Mrs. Malmström and the Agriculture Commissioner Mr.Hogan mentioned: “We welcome the publication by the USDA of the draft rule as a necessary step in the process to facilitate the export of apples and pears from the European Union to the United States. It is a welcome reflection of the increased level of engagement by the Commission with the US administration. It will be of significant benefit to European farmers, many of whom lost their main export markets overnight as a result of Russian sanctions imposed in 2014. The eventual opening of the US market will not offset the full impact of the sanctions, but it will certainly help the farming community by at least providing another commercial outlet for their produce. Following this initiative, we are looking forward to the rapid completion of the remaining legal and administrative steps in order to deliver further tangible benefits for the EU fruit producers. Opening the market for the 2016 harvest i.e. by September 2016 could be feasible, if all parties continue their efforts”.
This request to simplify market access to the US is pending since 2007. The application recently became even more relevant, as EU fruit growers were hit hard by the Russian sanctions imposed in 2014 in response to the Ukraine situation. Poland and Belgium, for example, lost 50% of their exports overnight. The Commission has been increasing levels of engagement with the US administration at highest level to solve this problem. Projected commercial value of exports is modest at around €10 million (which would represent a 0.5% market share). However, it provides a welcome relief to a sector under severe strain and it opens opportunities to react to fluctuations in supply.