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Luis Planas, regarding the European Commission's decision on cold treatment for non-EU oranges

"I'm not revealing anything if I say there obviously are interested parties and intense pressure"

The Spanish Minister of Agriculture, Luis Planas, asked the European Commission on Monday to adopt soon an effective decision to apply cold treatment to extra-Community imports of citrus fruits, a mechanism that prevents the arrival of pests such as the false moth (Thaumatotibia leucotreta) into the EU territory.

The politician said this after meeting in Brussels with the European Commissioner for Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, and after the EC removed from a meeting's agenda on Friday his proposal to apply cold treatment to citrus fruits from countries such as South Africa.

"We clearly want the EC to take this decision soon and for it to be effective as soon as possible. If it's possible, we hope it happens this week at the Community level. We also want it to really enter into effect. In other words, we don't want it to it to be a way of formally complying with what the European Food Safety Authority requested. We actually want it to prevent new pests, in this case, the false moth, from entering Community territory," Planas told the media after the meeting.

Planas insisted that Spain wants the European Union to take immediate decisions on cold treatment and acknowledged that, this Monday, Spain had expressed its displeasure because the measure was not approved last Friday.

The Minister recalled that last year the European Food Safety Authority concluded that cold treatment was the only formula to ensure that false moths did not enter the European Community through imports of citrus from third countries.

"The services of the Ministry are currently working with the services of the Commission to reach a final agreement on the text that would be submitted for approval. I have spoken to the Commissioner and was reassured that the Commission will do everything possible to ensure that a decision can be taken this week," he said.

In addition, at the meeting of EU agriculture ministers on Tuesday, Spain asked to discuss the issue.

Planas will explain to his community counterparts the importance of cold treatment. "Deciding this is of the utmost importance, not only for Spain, but for the plant health of the European Union, for the health of our plants and, ultimately, of our productions," he stated.

Asked about why there was no consensus to make this decision last week, the politician admitted that there were many circumstances.

"I'm not revealing anything if I say there obviously are interested parties and intense pressure. That is why I trust in the independence of the European Commission. The European Commission is looking after the Community interest," he said.



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