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European citrus sector asks for more phytosanitary prevention and protection

European representatives of the citrus sector, including the president of the Citrus Working Group of Cooperativas Agroalimentarias of Spain, Cirilo Arnandis, met on Friday in Catania, Sicily, the main Italian producing region.

At the meeting, attended by representatives of other Spanish and Italian organizations, as well as by officials of the Ministries of both countries, it was agreed to convey the sector's concerns about the phytosanitary threats to citrus plantations to the European Commission.

Cirilo Arnandis has described the modification of Directive 2000/29 (on protection measures against the introduction into the EU of organisms harmful to plants or plant products) as totally insufficient and inconsistent with the arguments presented by the sector itself, which were seconded by the European Parliament and endorsed by independent scientific opinions. Also, the 35 interceptions in citrus imports from third countries recorded in 2017, 24 of which corresponded to South Africa, allegedly demonstrate the threat posed by the entry of fruit from this country.

The meeting also served to make an assessment of the citrus campaign and to exchange information about the current 2017/18 marketing campaign. In this regard, the Spanish delegation pointed out that, as a result of the decline in production (13% lower than in the previous season), as well as of the good taste and sizes, the market conditions are good and the export flow has not slowed down in the first half of the campaign.

Arnandis highlighted the work carried out by MAPAMA in applying and monitoring compliance with the "Law of the Chain", which is encouraging the reduction of sales without previously agreed prices. The attendees expressed their wish that this type of regulation, which strengthens the position of the producer in the market, be taken as a model in the EU within the framework of the work carried out by the Commission, which should offer a legislative proposal in the coming months.

Lastly, the sector's representatives agreed on the need for the EU to redouble its efforts to facilitate the opening of new markets for fruit and vegetable exports and the lifting of tariff and phytosanitary barriers. They thus criticised the fact that the responsibility for negotiating protocols rests too much on the member states, which, individually, have much less negotiating power.

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