The EU on Friday formally extended until next year a multi-million-euro aid package to help European fruit and vegetable growers hit by Russian sanctions over the Ukraine crisis. The European Commission, the executive arm of the 28-nation European Union, said it “extended until the end of June 2016 the safety net measures for the European fruit and vegetables sector.” It took the decision after Russian President Vladimir Putin extended a ban against most Western food imports for a year, in retaliation for EU and US sanctions against Moscow.
The programme to ease the burden on fruit and vegetable growers has already cost 155 million euros ($170 million). Farmers in France, Belgium and Germany have staged protests against falling prices, especially for milk and dairy products, following both the Russian ban and a sharp slowdown in the Chinese market. The Commission said a week ago that new relief for the dairy sector would be in place from October, just as the current programme ends, and run through to February. Putin on June 24 extended a ban against most Western food imports until August 2016, saying the longer-than-expected measure would ensure the country’s security.