The "Various Interests" Group of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), in collaboration with the Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners (MTK), hosted a seminar entitled "The impact of current EU-Russia relations on the Agri-food sector" on 7 July 2015. The event took place at the Scandic Marina Congress Center in Helsinki (Finland). In the opening session, Paula Lehtomäki, State Secretary at the Prime Minister's Office, spoke on behalf of the Government of Finland, (first picture below, Ms Lehtomäki centre with President Jahier on the right and Seppo Kallio on the left).
The main objective of the seminar was to discuss the current situation in trade and agri-food products following the Russian restrictions on food imports from the European Union. Since Russia banned the import of agricultural goods from the EU, the situation for food producers has been very critical. This has impacted several European countries including: Finland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia which exported more than half of their agri-food export to Russia. Additional key exporters affected by the ban include Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Greece and Belgium amongst others. The seminar provided an opportunity to review and assess the situation as well as to suggest civil society's views on a way forward.
The seminar had approximately 100 people in attendance, including representatives of the Finnish government and from the agri-food industry as well as a large number of local civil society organisations.