Covid-19

Corona Virus
Covid-19

COVID-19 CRISIS 2020:
Situation and measures taken in Europe


As a key supplier of the food and drink industry, the European flavour industry is mobilised to fulfil its role in EU’s food security during this difficult moment. EFFA celebrates the effort that our members and their employees are doing to achieve this objective and stays committed to provide information and assistance where needed. We would like to share with you an overview of EU and national measures on COVID-19 and the efforts to contain it and mitigate the consequences of the crisis.

The EU action

The EU is coordinating a common European response to the outbreak of COVID-19.

The Commission, in cooperation with the President of the European Council, has put forward a European roadmap to phase-out the containment measures due to the coronavirus outbreak. While recognising the specificities of each country, the European roadmap establishes the few key principles and lists concrete recommendations Member States should consider when planning to lift containment measures. The roadmap was welcomed by the European Council on the 23 April 2020. 

The Commission will develop a Recovery plan, based on a revamped proposal for the next long-term EU budget (Multiannual Financial Framework) and the updated Commission Work Programme for 2020. More information and the Joint European Roadmap can be found on this Commission’s website.

On 13 May 2020, the European Commission presented a package of guidelines and recommendations to help Member States gradually lift travel restrictions and allow tourism businesses to reopen, after months of lockdown, while respecting necessary health precautions. More information on the EU proposal a list of transport measures by country are available on the
Commission’s website. The list is updated regularly as information becomes available.

The EU is also providing direct support to the EU health sector including medical guidance for Member States, availability of personal protective equipment and the programme RescEU, set up to create a reserve of medical equipment, from personal protective equipment to ventilators, vaccines and therapeutics.

Specific measures related to the agri-food chain and trade

  • On 23 April 2020, the European Commission (EC) has proposed exceptional measures to swiftly support agricultural sector and food markets following the outbreak of the coronavirus. It proposes to grant private storage aid for dairy and meat products, flexibility in the implementation of market support programmes to refocus funding priorities, and exceptional derogation from EU competition rules to stabilise the markets in different sectors. For example, the milk sector will be allowed to collectively plan milk production and the flower and potatoes sector will be allowed to withdraw products from the market. Such agreements and decisions would only be valid for a period of maximum six months. Consumer price movements will be monitored closely to avoid adverse effects. The Commission aims to have these measures adopted by the end of April. More information here

  • On 30 March 2020, the EC adopted a Regulation to provide for a temporary possibility for Member States to perform official controls on the agri-food chain in a simplified manner.

  • The EC published a Guidance on Customs matters linked to the COVID-19 emergency (application of customs provisions, customs procedures and formalities). More information on DG TAXUD website.

  • On 30 March 2020 the EC also presented practical Guidance to ensure the free movement of critical workers. This guidance provides practical advice to ensure that mobile workers within the EU, in particular those in critical occupations to fight the coronavirus pandemic, can reach their workplace. This includes but is not limited to those working in the health care and food sectors, and other essential services like childcare, elderly care, and critical staff for utilities.

  • The European Parliamentary Research Service issued a briefing on “Protecting the EU agri-food supply chain in the face of COVID-19”. It gives an overview on several key items such as the crisis’s impact on the EU agri-food supply chain, involving logistics and transport disruption and shortages of seasonal workers as well as a list of EU measures to tackle the crisis.
  • The European Commission has issued a Fact Sheet on Coronavirus: emergency response to support the agriculture and food sectors, outlining the measures taken to support the agri-food sector.

EU

Financial measures

On 23 April 2020, the European Council agreed to work towards establishing a recovery fund. This fund shall be of a sufficient magnitude, targeted towards the sectors and geographical parts of Europe most affected, and be dedicated to dealing with this unprecedented crisis. The Council of Europe have tasked the Commission to analyse the exact needs and to urgently come up with a proposal that is commensurate with the challenge we are facing. The Commission proposal should clarify the link with the Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF), which in any event will need to be adjusted to deal with the current crisis and its aftermath. More information on the Council website

The EU is mobilising all available resources to respond quickly, forcefully and in a coordinated manner to the coronavirus pandemic. The total amount mobilised so far is around €3.4 trillion.

On 2 April 2020, the Commission proposed far-ranging measures to mobilise every euro of the EU budget to protect lives and livelihoods. The EC launched a new initiative called SURE (Support mitigating Unemployment Risks in Emergency) aiming to help preserving jobs and support families.

It also proposed to redirect all available structural funds to the response to the coronavirus. Farmers and fishermen will also receive support, as will the most deprived of aid. An EU Solidarity for Health Initiative worth €3billion will cater for the needs of Member States’ health systems. More information on the EC’s website on Covid-19 response.

The European Commission registered €7.4 billion in pledges from donors worldwide during the Coronavirus Global Response pledging event which began today with the aim raising funding for the development and universal deployment of diagnostics, treatments and vaccines against coronavirus. In parallel, the Commission has invested €352 million to develop vaccines, new treatments, diagnostic tests and medical systems to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and to save lives.

On 15 May, the European Parliament (EP) adopted a resolution on the post-2020 EU budget revision and economic recovery plans, MEPs demand a robust package, focused on citizens’ needs and building on the EU budget. The recovery plan must be provided on top of the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), which is the EU’s long-term budget, not to the detriment of existing and upcoming EU programmes, MEPs warn. In addition, they insist that the MFF must be increased and underline that Parliament will use its veto powers if EP demands are not met.

COMMON EMERGENCY PLAN - €500 billion

On 9 April 2020, the Eurogroup (group of finance ministers of the 19 member states sharing the single currency, reached a deal on a response plan worth more than €500 billion.

Under the safety net for companies, SMEs are to be helped via an EU-wide loan scheme. In addition to creating a €25 billion guarantee fund, the European Investment Bank (EIB) initiative guarantees €200 billion of lending, which should involve national banks. The Eurogroup calls on the EIB to get the scheme up and running as soon as possible. More information: EIB - Euractiv  - Euronews

how can a flavour house access these loans?

How, where and when can companies apply for these funds?

Most of the financing will be made available through financial intermediaries in all the EU countries; that means either through commercial banks or National Promotional Institutions. Once the funds are available, companies can file requests with the participating banks and intermediaries. This list will be available on the European Investment Bank website.

The EIB Group is working for the funds to become available as soon as possible and is fast-tracking the decision-making process. You can sign up to the EIB Newsletter for the EIB coronavirus alerts to learn about the latest programmes available. 

EFFA OFFICE

With the work restrictions are slowly being lifted in Belgium, the EFFA offices were opened on Monday 11 May. For the time being, the return to the offices is voluntary, otherwise ‘home office’ remains the recommended norm.

All necessary protective measures (incl. masks, hand sanitisers, etc.) were taken to make sure that the office environment is safe and that the recommendations by the Belgian authorities are respected.

CUSTOMER ASSOCIATIONS

We are in close contact with other trade associations on the situation as well as on relevant dossiers. All the EU trade associations, EFFA is in close contact with, have implemented similar measures, e.g. home office. All association related events have been cancelled or are postponed for the time being. FoodDrinkEurope has issued a joint statement with Copa Cogeca (representing farmers and their cooperatives in the EU) and CELCAA (European Liaison Committee for Agricultural and Agri-Food Trade) on the commitment across Europe’s food supply chain “to ensure everybody continues to have access to safe, quality and affordable food and drink products during the Coronavirus pandemic”.

More information on their joint statement and Q&A on their website: https://www.fooddrinkeurope.eu/news/statement/ensuring-food-security-during-covid-19/

We also stay connected with other associations through networks such as the European Society of Association Executives (ESAE), regarding common policies currently put in place in many similar organisations. More information available on the ESAE website: https://www.esae.eu/covid

Working from home