An emergency meeting of European Union ministers in connection with the deadly E. coli crisis has produced a provisional proposal of aid for fruit and vegetable traders, of 150 million euros.
But because consumers are afraid of the consequences of eating fresh produce, their losses are far in excess of that figure.
The bloc’s Commissioner in charge of agriculture, Dacian Cioloş, after the talks in Luxembourg, said: “I have agreed to review the figures, and to come back with an improved proposal, an improvement which will be substantial, balanced and justified, given the current situation.”
Spain said the 150 million was not enough. It has been the hardest hit by the collapse in sales, after German officials, in error, they said later, blamed cucumbers imported from Spain for causing the E. coli outbreak.
But the EU’s consumer protection Commissioner stood up for the bloc’s system, generally.
John Dalli said: “Let us not go or intimate in any way that the control systems — the food safety systems we have in Europe — are not effective. Our policies on food production, our policies on food safety, I believe are the best in the world.”
The bacteria has so far killed 23 people. The plan to compensate farmers is to be decided next week, and, Brussels said, the funds could be released by the end of this month.