Highly pathogenic Avian Influenza cases have been detected in several member states of the EU – mainly in wild birds. This has reinforced the negative impact on poultry meat in many countries. The impact on prices has varied, but in general they are under pressure or have fallen significantly.
Since then, states Euro commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel in a recent speech, the Commission has made use of the only instrument at its disposal by increasing export refunds for poultry. However, the effects of this were limited due to the fact that several third countries have introduced import restrictions on our exports. â€œIt is, however, quite clear that the extent of the crisis cannot be handled effectively within the existing legal framework of the Common Market Organisation for Poultryâ€, Fischer Boel said. â€œThis unprecedented crisis is therefore not a normal market management difficulty, but is directly linked to consumers reacting to the news related to Avian Influenza. The drop in consumption and prices therefore needs to be tackled by providing the Commission with the necessary legal framework to intervene. â€œAt this stage it is not possible to identify which concrete measures could be adopted. It is an examination that should be done on a case by case basis and taking into account the measures already taken by member states. â€œI think therefore that the first step in the process must be to fill in the missing link. The Commission should be empowered to provide for concrete measures to be taken both now and in future similar cases in the poultry sector. â€œWhat seems to me the most appropriate and quickest solution is to extend the scope of the existing provision in the CMO which provides for special market support measures as a result of veterinary restrictions. â€œThis would entail a sharing of the financial burden between member states and the Community budget and would only be introduced upon the request of a member state. Without being too specific at this stage, such measures should attack the problem upstream and reduce production potential in order to avoid a continuous problem downstream. Other measures might also be considered. Budgetary considerations are also to be taken into account. In the meantime a number of member states have announced or already have taken initiatives with regard to state aid. Fischer Boel said the Commission will examine, in the light of the crisis, any proposal as quickly as possible, taking account both of the need for rapid help and the need to avoid distortions of competition. The Euro commissioner said that the Commission is acutely aware of the responsibility that it has in addressing the crisis in the poultry sector. A combination of the existing instruments under the CMO, asking the Council to give the Commission new powers and the recourse to state aid should allow it to address the crisis more effectively head-on.