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Creed Leads Pan-European Push for Commission Response to COVID-19 Impacts on Farmers and the Wider Agri-Food Sector Ireland Secures 27-Member State Call for Action at European Level

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D., has succeeded in garnering the support of all twenty-six of his Member State counterparts in his ongoing efforts to secure a European response to the impact of COVID-19 for the agri-food sector.

Speaking after final agreement on a Joint Statement emerged following intense engagement at official level, the Minister said, “I am delighted that it has proven possible for all of my colleagues to join Ireland in this initiative. A pan-European problem requires a common European response. The fact that all twenty-seven Member States have agreed this joint approach is a powerful expression of solidarity - one which I hope will register strongly with the European Commission and lead to decisive action as soon as possible.”

This development comes after a period of sustained effort by Minister Creed to have the economic impact of COVID-19 on farmers and the wider agri-food sector acknowledged and addressed. He has written to European Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski, in this regard on two occasions in the last few weeks, has addressed the matter at the video conference of Agriculture Ministers at the end of March, and spoken to the Commissioner directly by video conference last week.

The Minister stated I have taken every opportunity, including through a recent bilateral discussion with the Commissioner, to press the need for urgent action at European level. While of course the immediate priority in this unprecedented public health emergency is the protection of public health, there is also a need to address the economic impacts of COVID-19, from which the agri-food sector is not immune. Indeed, these impacts are growing more acute by the day. I welcome the wider action already taken at European level, including through the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative, but there is a clear need to urgently address the particular difficulties being experienced by farmers and the agri-food sector.

The focus of the Minister’s efforts has been to secure action under three broad headings, namely:

  • a rapid deployment of the full range of support measures provided for under the Common Market Organisation Regulation - including Private Storage Aid for dairy and other products, and exceptional aid for beef and sheep farmers;
  • increased flexibility in the implementation of direct payments under the Basic Payment Scheme - including in the form of earlier payment dates, higher rates of advance payment, and in relation to on-the-spot controls and administrative checks: and
  • similar increased flexibility in the implementation of Rural Development Programmes.

 All of these elements feature strongly in today’s Joint Statement.

Confirming that the Joint Statement has now been submitted to Commissioner Wojciechowski by Ireland on behalf of all Member States, the Minister concluded, “Today is an important step in all of our efforts to ensure that farmers and the agri-food sector - who are playing a vital role in the fight against COVID-19 by maintaining continuity of food supply in very difficult circumstances - are protected to the maximum possible extent from the economic impact of this crisis. But it is just a further step. We have to follow this up through continued, sustained engagement with the European Commission. I look forward to playing a leading role in this regard.”      

Note for Editors:

Copy of Joint Statement below.

Joint Statement of EU-27 Ministers for Agriculture regarding the response needed at European level, under the Common Agricultural Policy, to the COVID-19 crisis


The Ministers for Agriculture of Ireland, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden, supported by Croatia:


Acknowledge the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on all European Citizens;


Stress that our shared immediate priority in this public health emergency is the protection of human life and health;


Emphasise the vital role of farmers and the wider agri-food sector in maintaining food security and food supply in Europe during this crisis, as well as the essential framework provided by the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in this regard, and the necessity of a strong CAP in the future;

Call on all Member States to work together in a spirit of European solidarity;

Note with concern the emerging market impacts of the COVID-19 crisis in the agri-food sector, which are already significant in the case of some sub-sectors;

Consider that the medium- and long-term impacts could potentially be severe and long-lasting for European farmers, for the food industry, and for the rural economy;

Welcome the solidarity demonstrated in the European response to date, including through the new temporary State Aid framework, the Guidelines for border management and for the free movement of workers, and the two stages of the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative, which includes some flexibilities around CAP scheme implementation;

Consider that, nevertheless, there remains a need for urgent additional appropriate and responsible measures to be activated under the CAP at this time.

As Ministers for Agriculture we therefore call on the Commission to facilitate: 

  • The implementation of measures under the Common Market Organisation (CMO) Regulation of the CAP, including in particular aid for private storage, to support those sectors where significant market disturbances and price impacts have been assessed, as well as exceptional aid for farmers in the most affected sectors under Articles 219 and 221 of the CMO Regulation;
  • Ongoing review and monitoring of all sectors over the coming period, with a readiness to introduce further CMO measures as necessary;
  • The immediate extension of further flexibilities to Member States under both pillars of the CAP, including in relation to earlier payment dates, higher rates of advance payment than those already announced, activation of specific measures within rural development programmes, and the implementation of on-the-spot controls and administrative checks, without lowering the effectiveness of the control system;
  • A continued strong and coordinated European response that demonstrates to all our citizens the vital role that European farmers and the wider agri-food sector have to play in the response to COVID-19, as well as the strength of the CAP in supporting food security, environmental protection and vibrant rural areas at this critical time, and into the future.
  • The readiness of European farms to cope with the COVID-19 crisis as well as other present and future challenges, including climate change and biodiversity loss. 

 16 April 2020

Date Released: 18 April 2020