Agri-food sector gets export help

More than £80 million is being made available to promote agricultural produce outside the EU. The money is being made available under a new promotional scheme adopted by the European Commission, writes Eric Davies.

"Enjoy, it's from Europe" will provide over €111 million (some £82 million) to promote European agriculture in 2016.

European producers will benefit from programmes aimed at finding new markets and promoting consumption both outside and inside the EU.

In addition to helping businesses in the sector break into or consolidate international markets, the initiative will raise awareness among EU consumers of the range of foodstuffs produced by Europe’s farmers.

Co-financing

Under the new farm products promotion rules, funding allocated to information and promotion campaigns will increase to €200 million in 2019 — an increase of €140 million since 2013, when the budget was just €61 million.

EU co-financing rates will vary depending on the type of promotional programme concerned, but will be significantly higher compared to those available under the current regime.

For programmes submitted by one or more organisations from the same Member State (known as “simple programmes”) EU funding will run at 70%.

Programme submitted by at least two proposing organisations from at least two Member States or one or more European organisations (“multi programmes”) will attract co-financing of 80%, as will programmes targeting third countries.

Cyprus and Greece, which are designated as countries receiving financial assistance, will receive 75–85% of co-funding.

With national co-financing schemes no longer permitted, the new rules will, says the Commission, create a level playing field.

Pro-active strategy

Creating an EU-level strategy will allow for promotional measures to be more targeted and — thanks to higher financing rates — should lead to an increase both in the number of programmes aimed at third countries and in programmes involving participants from two or more Member States.

More products will be eligible for promotional funding, with processed agri-food products such as bread, pasta and chocolate included in the scheme. Companies will have more flexibility to mention brands and the origin of their products.

Red tape will be cut: administrative procedures will be simplified, with the assessment and selection of programmes taking place in one phase rather than the current two phases.

The strategy should also help overcome consumers' lack of awareness about the merits of European agricultural products and of EU product quality systems.

The new regime will see the introduction of an annual work programme, in which the Commission will set out the strategic priorities for promotion measures in terms of products, schemes and markets to be targeted, along with corresponding financial allocations.

The objective, according to the Commission, “is to have a dynamic and pro-active policy, adapted each year to emerging market opportunities and the needs of the sector.”

Diplomatic offensive

The 2016 programme targets selected third countries seen as offering the greatest potential for growth — particularly in the EU sectors that are experiencing difficult market conditions, such as dairy and pig meat.

Of the total €100 million funding allocated to the "Enjoy, it's from Europe" scheme, €30 million is specifically earmarked for promotional measures in the dairy and pig meat sectors, in line with a support package unveiled by the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, in September.

Announcing the new funding initiative, Commissioner Hogan said that he was looking forward “to mounting a diplomatic offensive in the coming months, leading trade missions to open further opportunities for EU producers across the globe."

Further information

For more information on the EU’s agriculture promotional measures, including the relevant legislation, see the Commission’s DG Agriculture and Rural Development pages.