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Spanish-French-Italian Citrus Contact Group

European citrus sector requests compensatory measures for South Africa agreement

The so-called Spanish-French-Italian Citrus Contact Group, which has met in Valencia, agreed to ask the European Commission (EC) for the future implementation of some kind of compensatory measures to alleviate, even in part, the negative impact that the recent agreement between the European Union (EU) and the Southern African Development Community will have.

During this citrus summit, the representatives of the Italian, French and Spanish agricultural authorities also decided to ask the EC to draw up a study on the impact of this agreement (in particular of the important concessions granted to South Africa to allow it to introduce its citrus fruit into the EU market) on the European citrus fruit sector as a whole. They also regretted that such an impact study has not been carried out or presented before the agreement was reached.

One of the possible compensations that may be introduced by the EU would be the enforcement of quotas for the import of citrus fruits from South Africa at those times of the year when their presence on the EU markets coincides with Europe's own citrus production, thus potentially distorting the normal development of the season by pushing prices down.

Another important issue addressed during this meeting, which is of particular concern to the European citrus industry, is the EU's apparent inadequacies in controlling the possible entry of pests and diseases in citrus fruit shipments imported from third countries. In that sense, the representatives of the Spanish-French-Italian Citrus Contact Group stressed that the latest regulatory changes, far from contributing to solving the problem, will further aggravate it, as they establish different monitoring systems for the citrus shipments from abroad depending on whether their final destination is the fresh market or the processing industry. In the latter case, inspections are not as strict, possibly leading to a distortion of the final number of pest and disease detections in imports from third countries. and the risk that products intended for processing end up on the fresh market.
At present, the preservation of plant health in European citriculture is one of the sector's main concerns, since pests and diseases that don't exist in Europe are too often detected in imported shipments, without the EU addressing the problem with the seriousness it deserves, given how these diseases could cause a catastrophe with irreparable consequences.

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