Belgium is set to lose 281 million euros thanks to Russia’s embargo on European food products.
It is only the seventh worst affected EU country, but authorities in Wallonia, the Belgian region that grows the most fruit, want their fellow countrymen to make up the shortfall.
One Belgian fruit seller said he thought the embargo could have a positive effect if a good advertising campaign were to tell people they should eat homegrown rather than foreign.
At the same fruit market a shopper said: “It would be good if everybody ate more fruit. Instead of letting it rot, it could be given to people who are poor, or to schools. There are ways to do things if there is a will.”
According to EU estimates, Russia’s embargo will cost more than five billion euros because it affects 43 percent of exports.
Now the European Commission will set aside 60 million euros for projects aimed at boosting sales outside of the EU.
Nevertheless, to stop a sharp fall in prices over the coming months, European farmers say urgent action is needed.
“We have to work on external trade relations in equivalent markets
so that we can have some returns for possible bilateral trade agreements. I would imagine Canada, US, Japan, South Korea, maybe China as well,” Pekka Pesonen from the European Farmers and Agri-Cooperatives told euronews.
The Commission 60 million euro package will be presented to the European Agricultural Minister’s Council at a special meeting on Friday 5 September, where long-term measures will also be discussed.