Freshfel Headlines

Freshfel Headlines – Number 5, 2018 

Freshfel Europe holds 2nd Thematic Network webinar

On 26 September 30 participants from the agri-food and health sectors and representatives from the European Commission joined Freshfel Europe’s in its second webinar on its Thematic Network ‘Stimulating fresh fruit and vegetable consumption for healthier European consumers’. During the webinar Freshfel Europe General Delegate Philippe Binard gave an update on the progress of the Thematic Network, before detailing the structure and contents of Part 2 of the Joint Statement, which Freshfel is currently drafting. This was followed by two presentations from Freshfel members GroentenFruitHuis and Bord Bia on their best practices on innovative ways to stimulate consumption. The next steps regarding the drafting process of Part 2 of the Joint Statement and the Thematic Network in general was then presented by Freshfel Europe Communications Officer and Policy Advisor Nicola Pisano. If you were not able to join the webinar, the full webinar presentation and recording is available via the Thematic Network portal on the EU Health Policy Platform. The Thematic Network was also presented by Mr. Binard during the latest meeting of the European Commission DG AGRI Civil Dialogue Group on Fruit and Vegetables.

Freshfel Europe presents residue limits at the Chicory Biennial 2018

On 28-29 September the Chicory Biennial 2018 took place in The Netherlands. The Chicory Biennial event gathers growers, consultants, researches and business community from the main European producing countries of chicory. Among a great number of presentations, Freshfel Director of Food Quality Eglė Baecke-Eimontaitė gave a presentation on “Residue limits, developments and directions”. In her presentation Ms. Baecke-Eimontaitė summarised the European regulatory and non-regulatory requirements for plant protection products and the maximum residue limits. An overview regarding the main challenges that the producers and traders of chicory could face was also presented.

UTPs: Freshfel Europe position paper & follow up in European Parliament

The debate on Unfair Trading Practices has culminated – the various committees of the European Parliament, responsible or co-responsible for this file, have been voting on their positions and on 24 October the plenary will vote on the final position, which will give it the mandate to negotiate with the Council. The Council is also finalising its position. From all institutions, there is the will to pass this legislation.

Freshfel has proactively followed this file from the outset via position papers and meetings with the European Commission services based on discussions with the Board. In June 2018, Freshfel Europe Policy Advisor Helene Deruwe drafted a paper for the European Parliament on the Commission proposal, indicating the concerns and questions for the fruit and vegetable supply chain. Over summer the different committees within the Parliament drafted their own reports with amendments to the Commission proposal. As some elements of the proposed amendments were of concern to Freshfel members, a follow up with all the members of the Agricultural committee was done with another paper in September to clarify Freshfel views with the planned amendments, indicating how they would enhance or counter the well-functioning of the supply chain. In particular, the position of the Producer Organisations, the obligatory written contracts, proof of quality, the definition of perishability, and the location for lodging a complaint were highlighted. The Agricultural committee is voting on its report on 1 October. Besides this, Ms. Deruwe met with the Head of Unit responsible for Governance of the agri-food supply chain, Bruno Buffaria, together with the secretariat of CELCAA and Europatat.

Freshfel Europe responds to Commission consultation on market transparency

In the framework of its efforts to improve the functioning of the supply chain, the European Commission is assessing steps that could be taken to improve Market Transparency. The European Commission intends to focus its efforts on the fruit and vegetable, meat and dairy supply chain. At the moment there is uncertainty over how to cover and collect this data. Currently there is an ongoing technical identification of which data to collect and at which level, i.e. at Member State level or private. The European Commission will have to undertake an initiative, most likely an Implementing Act, based on a working document whose content will be fed by input from Member State discussions and Civil Dialogue Groups.

In this process, Freshfel’s General Delegate Philippe Binard and Policy Advisor Helene Deruwe are providing the European Commission with information about the specific characteristics of the fruit and vegetable supply chain, insisting that any public initiative should always be accompanied by a detailed explanation of the specific functioning of the fruit and vegetable supply chain and that the proposed platform or initiative should contain more than just prices and volumes. The European Commission indicated that any platform will always be accompanied by a detailed Market Analysis. A survey is currently being conducted asking stakeholders to give their input to the discussion with an extended deadline of 14 October, to which Freshfel will respond with a position paper.

Freshfel Europe discusses EU-USA trade tensions & way forward at DG TRADE

Together with other agri-food sector colleagues, Freshfel Policy Advisor Natalia Santos-Garcia Bernabe met with Hiddo Houben, Head of the USA and Canada Unit at DG TRADE, to discuss the latest state of play of EU-US trade relations. During the meeting, discussions revolved around the engagement the European Commission is seeking with the USA, following the visit of Commission President Juncker to the US and the release of the joint Trump-Juncker Statement. A working group, steered by Commissioner Cecilia Malmström, has been set up with the aim to increase cooperation and build positive momentum in trade dossiers. The areas to be covered by this group include regulatory cooperation, tariff reduction, WTO reform, and other sectorial issues. The first outcome of these talks is expected by December. Nonetheless, the Commission gave assurances that agricultural goods fall outside of the scope of the negotiations.

In parallel, on the priority issue of the 8 Member States’ Ruling for Apples and Pears to access the US market, the European Commission reaffirmed its commitment to its promotion, while acknowledging its disappointment for the time being about the blockage of the protocol. Progress on this dossier is seen by the Commission as a prerequisite for the EU to continue other discussions on SPS.

Freshfel Europe continues to focus on emerging Asian markets

Given the on-going attention of the European Commission on FTAs with Asia and Australasia, Freshfel Policy Advisor Natalia Santos-Garcia Bernabe prepared in cooperation with Freshfel members a working document outlining the main challenges and priorities of the fresh produce sector in Asian markets. The document outlines the main European export commodities of interest (offensives) for Asia, together with major SPS and other tariff and non-tariff barriers for European exports in these markets, and potential recommendations and opportunities for the future. This document should serve to feed European fruit and vegetable priorities for trade negotiations with Asian partners.

The Asian market is a high priority for Freshfel members as demonstrated by the large participation of Freshfel members at Asia Fruit Logistica this year (Hong Kong , 5-7 September 2018 ). Freshfel Policy Advisor Nelli Hajdu used this opportunity to meet Freshfel members such as Assomela, C.S.O Italy, Interfel, Baywa, Zeus Kiwi, Anecoop, BeFresh, Blue Whale who were present at the fair.

On 24 September, Freshfel Policy Advisor Natalia Santos-Garcia Bernabe and Freshfel General Delegate Philippe Binard participated in a meeting with the Delegation of the EU China Chamber of Commerce during their annual visit to Brussels, hosted by DG TRADE, looking at windows of opportunity for European exports. The Chamber of Commerce encouraged Freshfel to continue its engagement with Chinese associations as well as with Chinese authorities, especially in the light of China’s administration’s re-shuffle. All these exchanges are useful in preparation for the 3rd annual Freshfel-CIQA Workshop, to be held in Beijing on 18-19 November, which will be the perfect opportunity to continue building a strong partnership with Chinese counterparts.

Freshfel Europe meets with Commissioner Hogan’s Cabinet on trade policy

On 25 September, Freshfel Policy Advisor Natalia Santos-Garcia Bernabe and Philippe Binard, Freshfel General Delegate discussed the state of play of relevant trade dossiers with Cristina Rueda-Catry, member of the Cabinet of Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan in charge of trade and relations with international organisations. Freshfel had the opportunity to outline the fresh fruit and vegetables trade priorities with neighbouring countries, SPS hurdles as well matters relating to promotion policy. The need to better communicate the benefits of trade agreements was also highlighted during the meeting in light of growing global protectionism.

Freshfel Europe participates in expert group on ‘Plant Health Awareness Raising’

On 28 September Freshfel Policy Advisor Natalia Santos-Garcia Bernabe attended the expert group on ‘Plant Health Awareness raising’ organised by the European Commission on behalf of Freshfel. During the meeting, the Commission announced the upcoming lunch of a ‘platform’ for Member States and relevant stakeholders to share information about national campaigns on plant health issues. In the meantime, Freshfel continues to closely follow all developments related to the new plant health regime in close contact with the European Commission and in coordination with its members. The EU has now launched the official WTO consultation on the ‘high risk’ proposal, and the other two implementing regulations under discussion which will shape the new regime will be negotiated by Member States in the next Plant Health Standing Committee on 11-12 October.

Freshfel Europe holds stand at 40th EFAD Conference in Rotterdam

At the 40th European Federation of the Association of Dietitians (EFAD) Conference, which was held on 28-29 September in Rotterdam, Freshfel organised a stand to disseminate information on the health and nutrition initiatives that Freshfel is currently undertaking as well as Freshfel’s general work. In particular, Freshfel Communications Officer and Policy Advisor Nicola Pisano spoke with representatives from the Dietitians’ Associations throughout Europe about Freshfel’s #FruitVeg4You social media campaign, which Freshfel runs in cooperation with Copa-Cogeca as a commitment to the EU Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health, as well as Freshfel’s Thematic Network and the upcoming EGEA conference taking place in November in Lyon. Representatives present were also alerted to Freshfel being an expert European contact point for information regarding fresh produce consumption, promotion and health related issues.

Freshfel Europe Board Member re-elected at Civil Dialogue Group on Fruit and Vegetables 

Mr Jose Antonio Garcia Fernandez, Director of Ailimpo and Freshfel Board Member, was re-elected as Vice-President of the European Commission Horticulture Civil Dialogue Group and acting chairman of the section dealing with Fruit and Vegetables. On the occasion of the latest meeting on the 28 September a wide range of topics were discussed between industry representatives and the European Commission services, including the latest development on the CMO, a progress report on the European Commission proposal on UTPs,  the revision of the licenses regulation, the re-evaluation of marketing standards, the impact of climatic conditions on the fruit and vegetable market, the EU neighborhood policy in particular with Mediterranean countries, the Freshfel Europe’s Thematic Network on stimulating fresh produce consumption and the status of New Breeding Techniques.

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