Unions urge European Commission to work with EU members to ‘explore ways’ to support agri-food sector
The novel coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the food supply in European countries, according to a statement Thursday by a Brussels-based institution.
“Delays and disruption at country borders have been observed for the delivery of certain agricultural and manufactured products, as well as packaging materials. There is also concern over the movement of workers, notably due to certain border closures and travel restrictions, as well as potential labour shortages as staff follow national movement restrictions to mitigate the crisis,” said a joint statement by FoodDrinkEurope, the food industry confederation in the EU, the European Liaison Committee for Agricultural and Agri-Food Trade (CELCAA) and European farmers and agri-cooperatives union COPA-COGECA.
The statement said following the “important and necessary emergency measures” by EU member states, members have reported increasing difficulties in business operations.
It said the food supply chain in Europe wants to ensure Europeans continue to have access to “safe, quality and affordable food and drink products” during the outbreak.
“Given that the agri-food supply chain is highly integrated and operating across borders, any blocks of supply and workers will inevitably disrupt business. Our ability to provide food for all will depend on the preservation of the EU Single Market,” it said.
For the food supply chain to function effectively, the statement urged the European Commission to work “collaboratively” with institutions and “to do everything in its power” to ensure the uninterrupted flow of agricultural produce, food and drink products and packaging materials, as well as solutions to prevent and manage labor shortages.
It urged the Commission to work with EU members to “explore ways” to boost the agri-food sector, which has already come under “immense financial pressure”.
The statement also called the Commission to consider 11 million farmers, 4.7 million manufacturing workers, 294,000 food and drink businesses including 22,000 agri-cooperatives — and 35,000 trading companies in Europe.
The virus known as COVID-19 emerged in Wuhan, China, last December, and has since spread to at least 159 countries and territories, according to Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Research Center in the U.S.
More than 222,000 cases have been confirmed worldwide, with 9,000 deaths.
The World Health Organization declared the outbreak pandemic.
The virus is not fatal in all cases and a vast majority of patients fully recover.