So far, 15 people have died in Germany because of the E. coli outbreak that has shaken European agriculture. Last week Germany implicated cucumbers imported from Spain as the source.
euronews interviewed the Spanish Agriculture Minister, Rosa Aguilar, from Debrecen in Hungary, where she has been meeting her European counterparts to discuss the crisis.
Marta Gil, euronews:
Mrs Aguilar, Germany is now saying that Spanish cucumbers are not the cause of the infections. What’s the Spanish government’s reaction?
Rosa Aguilar, Spanish Agriculture Minister:
“The response of the Spanish government is that for a start, it’s obvious that you can’t make accusations without proof – and therefore that Germany should take note. Secondly, as a result of the damage done to Spanish production, Spain has announced today in the EU’s informal Council that we are going to help our producers so that they can begin demanding aid allowed for by the World Trade Organisation in the event of crisis.
“Thirdly, we’ve asked for emergency aid to absorb the damage done to this field, damage that’s irreversible. And finally we reserve the right to hold Germany to account in this affair, and consequently we also ask for Germany to contribute financially to compensate the damage caused to Spanish production.
“We’ve tabled these three questions, and we stress that you can’t make accusations without having proof. That’s caused damage that’s unfair, undue and absolutely unjustified, without evidence or motive.”
So does that mean that there will be a formal complaint from the Spanish government regarding Germany?
Firstly we’re going to wait and see whether the emergency aid from the EU is a satisfactory response to the losses suffered by Spanish agriculture following this unjustified accusation. And in the name of the Spanish government and of Spanish farmers, we reserve the right to hold Germany to account. But the first step that we want to take at the EU’s Extraordinary Council is to know how far Europe will go in its response. And from that point we will act, in agreement with the Spanish farming industry, to demand together whatever they need: that means, compensating the damage to its equivalent value.
Have the agriculture ministers meeting today in Hungary given you guarantees that farmers are going to receive the indemnities they’re claiming?
It has to be said that we’re presented with a European problem whose response must be European, since Spain is the most affected. But there are also other member states whose farmers have been affected by this situation. As agriculture ministers of the EU we’re obliged to give a response. And it must be done within the framework of the EU because it’s appropriate.