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ICOS attended the European Commission Civil Dialogue Meeting on the Dairy Sector on Friday, 16th October as a member of the Copa-Cogeca delegation.  The civil dialogue meeting allows dairy industry stakeholders from across the EU to engage with the European Commission on matters of concern.

In welcome news, Anne Randles from Ornua was re-elected Chair of this important body.

The trade dispute over aviation between the EU and the US was raised as a significant issue, with the EU dairy sector caught up in the dispute following the decision by the US government to impose 25% tariffs on EU dairy products entering the USA, as a retaliatory measure.  Eucolait, the European dairy traders body said that the annual dairy trade between the EU and US is worth €1bn, as such the hit to the EU dairy industry is €250 million. Year to date trade figures between the EU and the US indicate that the tariffs are impacting cheese sales, with EU origin products entering the USA down -16% y-t-d.  The Commission acknowledged that the dispute is disruptive for both sides. The EU has drawn up a list of products to impose its own tariffs on US products. It will impose these sanctions in an effort to bring the US to the negotiating table. With a week to the US Presidential Elections, the outcome of the election result will be telling.

The Commission confirmed that they have issued guidance to Member States developing their national CAP strategic plans and eco-scheme measures. The Commission has provided 4 examples of eco-schemes, which will be a new requirement under Pillar 1 of the CAP. The examples include agro-forestry, agro-ecology, carbon farming and precision farming. The Commission provided a summary of the Farm 2 Fork strategy, noting that the promotion of healthier diets to combat the obesity epidemic is a top priority of the EU’s Health Commissioner, the lead on the Farm 2 Fork within the EU’s executive. The Commission urged dairy stakeholders to engage with all public consultations associated with the strategy and requested that stakeholders familiarise themselves with the Farm 2 Fork Action Plan, as the strategy is likely to define the dairy sector over the next number of years.

The Commission said it is aware that the Farm 2 Fork strategy may have implications for future trade agreements, as the EU’s farming sector will need extra protection from imports, produced at lower environmental standards. However, it is still confident that 3rd countries will want to make free trade agreements with the EU as the EU is the 2nd largest market in the world. However, it is vital that the EU doesn’t move too far and too fast from the market.  The ongoing Brexit uncertainty was another critical issue raised by ICOS at the meeting.

Eamonn Farrell – Agri-Food Policy Executive