Greece has a significant agricultural tradition and the European Commission wants this tradition to continue to flourish in the 21st century, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan said on Thursday, during an address on the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in the Greek Parliament.
“Your products, from olive oil to feta, fruits and vegetables, are known throughout the world. As European Commissioner I want to support this and invest in this,” he said, noting that Greek farmers stood to receive 15 billion euros in direct subsidies from 2014 until 2020. This would be the focus of his meeting with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Hogan added.
The Commissioner also pledged continued protection for product names indicating geographic origin, stressing that the European Commission will not consent to an agreement that does not protect these. The EU currently protected 269 Greek names of geographic origin and will continue to protect these in all negotiations, he said.
Referring to the Commission’s plans for 2017, as presented by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker,
Hogan said there would be a bid to expand EU investment. The Juncker plan aimed to show European citizens that “European cooperation is the best bet for our future prosperity and security,” he noted.
“For the next five or six years, we intend to double the investments since, as I said, more than 200,000 small businesses have received loans and hundreds of thousands of people have found new jobs,” Hogan said, pointing to a 15-million-euro loan that the European Investment Bank had given to Creta Farms as an example.
The Commissioner was upbeat about the prospects of Greek agriculture, noting that the agricultural sector had done comparatively well in spite of the difficult economic situation in recent years.
“I see that new ‘players’ are emerging in Greece, who produce quality products which are friendlier to the environment, more innovative and export oriented. The challenge is to support the country’s ambition and innovation with strong, targeted policies supporting investments,” he said.
Greece will receive roughly 5.0 billion euros in 2014-2020 to spend on measures for the rural economy, of which 25 pct is destined for investments, including for processing and commercialisation of sectors, Hogan told MPs.
Approximately 8 pct will be spent on rural and business growth, meaning that 7,500 agricultural concerns will be supported with a total sum exceeding 560 million euros to invest on restructuring and modernisation.
Hogan said that there will be an announcement in coming weeks for the launch of a process on the 2020 reforms, due to be completed by next September, and asked for the Greek Parliament’s full participation in the process.