Reforming the EU’s fruit and vegetable sector is the order of the day for Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel. This produce represents some 1.5 billion euros in community spending per year. It makes up 17 percent of farm production in the Member States where agriculture is a going concern.
Italy and Spain are the most active in fruit and vegetables, ahead of France and Portugal. The Commission wants to re-organise, spend more intelligently, to reduce costs for producers who are increasingly at the mercy of big retailers who set the prices. Growers are the most organised in Belgium, while the most isolated are in Poland.
Brussels wants to give more responsibility to the organisations which distribute EU aid. The aim is to increase competitivity and improve quality. Financial support for fruit and vegetable exports would be phased out. Also in the proposals: the EU would pay for the free distribution – to up to five percent of the total – to institutions such as schools, hospitals, prisons and retirement homes.