The director of the ministry of agriculture, rural development and environment, Andreas Gregoriou, represented Cyprus at the EU council of agriculture and fisheries on Monday.

The focus of the meeting was problems faced by EU member states in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Gregoriou welcomed the measures taken so far by the commission to address setbacks in the agricultural market, and called for proceeding swiftly with the adoption of new financing for farmers from the rural development fund.

Russia’s invasion and resultant increases in the cost of fertilisers, feed, and fuel, have significantly depressed profits for producers in Cyprus, Gregoriou said, a situation which needs to be monitored. Gregoriou also said exporting cereals from Ukraine via sea transport is expected to speed up mitigation.

The twenty-seven member states were also informed of progress made on regulation based on geographical indications. Gregoriou said there is a need to add an amendment to extend the ten-year transitional period of compliance for a period of five years, in exceptional cases. Such an extension would help address problems hindering implementation, he said.

During the meeting views were exchanged on EU health and environmental standards for imported agricultural food products. While Gregoriou said Cyprus supports the transition to sustainable food systems, he added that extension of EU standards to third countries will likely entail significant difficulties, and stressed the need for the transition to be gradual in line with World Trade Organisation rules.

Gregoriou said the challenges of compliance with EU standards, particularly those resulting from pest pressures, also apply to certain parts of the EU. Food security, especially in difficult times such as this one, he said should be taken into account before making decisions that impact trade.

Addressing issues in the fisheries sector, member states exchanged views on implementation of the common fisheries policy and on fishing opportunities for 2023. Gregoriou said it was important to ensure a level playing field through regional fisheries management and cooperation between EU states and third countries.

In addition, speaking on the hot issue of discarding mixed catch, he said alternatives should be found and unwanted catches should be reduced. Gregoriou concluded by saying it was important to strengthen efforts to mitigate increasing anthropogenic pressures in the fisheries sector.