The Russian invasion of Ukraine is hitting the EU's agricultural and agri-food sectors hard. The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) therefore endorses the new additional aid measure proposed by the European Commission. The Committee feels that this measure is absolutely necessary and calls on the European institutions to lose no time in adopting it.
The war in Ukraine is demonstrating the geostrategic nature of the agri-food sector and the need to maintain food security in the European Union. Consequently, measures supporting the cash-flow of farms and agri-food SMEs are imperative to ensure their economic survival during this new crisis, which comes on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the EAFRD budget is already covering existing financing needs and mid- and long-term commitments; it should not be used to finance emergency measures. However, as some EU countries have already used up or committed their funds under the EAFRD, the EESC considers that the European Commission should set up another source of funding outside the common agricultural policy (CAP) budget, so that this measure can be implemented without limiting EAFRD funds in the coming years.
Furthermore, in view of the exceptional circumstances of the present situation and the need for a swift response, the Committee considers that the Commission should reduce the timeframe for paying out the aid and simplify the eligibility criteria for beneficiaries.