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Coronavirus: joint statement Copa-Cogeca, FoodDrinkEurope, EuroCommerce

Brussels, 26 March 2020 – Copa-Cogeca, FoodDrinkEurope and EuroCommerce represent the core actors in the European food supply chain: farmers and agri-cooperatives, food and drink manufacturers, and wholesale and retail distribution.

In these challenging times, our farmers and businesses strive day and night to get food and drink to all Europeans every day. We are working together, also with many other businesses in the agri-food supply chain, and with the European institutions to ensure our collective response is coordinated and effective, both in the short and long-term.

We pay tribute to all of those across society who are working tirelessly to deal with the Covid-19 public health crisis. In the food supply chain, committed people on our farms, in our factories, on the roads, and in our shops and supermarkets are giving all their energy, time, and dedication to fulfil this important mission: feeding people.

We will do all in our power to ensure our food systems continue to function sustainably and effectively throughout the health crisis and the confinement measures taken.

We emphasise that our industries and workforce must be recognised as essential to maintain our activities and ensure safe, affordable and quality food for our consumers. We ask that the borders remain open for people and for freight to fulfill this essential mission.

We offer to work with the European institutions through a structured dialogue to ensure that the response to Covid-19 is coordinated and effective, both during the crisis and in its aftermath.

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Need for COVID exit plans across Europe

EuroCommerce is pleased that the Commission has sought to propose a number of ideas on how Europe can gradually return to normal once the immediate danger of the COVID-19 pandemic has eased. We recognise that the rate of infection differs from country to country and that decisions on the health of their citizens rests with national governments.

We support the Commission, however, in a number of important issues they raise in their welcome Communication issued today.  These include:

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Recovery from COVID-19 needs free trade, not protectionism

Speaking today, EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren called upon leaders across the world to drive the economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic by freeing up global trade:

“Before the virus became a global crisis, we saw a worrying spread of an equally pernicious development – the mistaken belief that economic growth can come from imposing tariffs and blocking imports. If we are to see the world economy start growing again after a downturn maybe as bad as in the 1930s, world leaders should get together now to agree on how to do so. Above all, they need to avoid the same mistakes made then of closing down international trade. Supply chains are complex and global, and these need to stay open if all of our economies are to recover quickly.”

 

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Keep Europe safe, but keep goods flowing

Speaking today about decisions in some EU countries to close a number of their borders, EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren said:

“Retailers and wholesalers rely on many thousands of suppliers across Europe to ensure that Europe’s consumers can have the daily essentials they need.  We have consistently lived up to that obligation all through the COVID pandemic. We also fully support all measures necessary to stop the spread of the virus and its new variants. But this can be done without making border crossing impossible for lorries carrying the goods consumers need. We therefore wish to remind all member states of the real problems which arose for goods traffic and cross-border workers last year when borders were closed, and of the important guidelines the Commission issued to resolve those problems. We all want people to be safe, but also able to have the things they need to help them have as normal a life as the present - abnormal - circumstances allow.”

The first wave of the pandemic last year sparked off a series of border closures which member states believed would help stem the spread of the COVID virus. In doing so, they initially gave little thought to the impact of such closures on cross-border flows of goods which consumers and industry needed to have available every day.  They also prevented many thousands of workers living one side of the border from getting to their workplaces on the other side.  The Commission acted quickly to issue harmonised guidelines which set up ‘green lanes’ for goods traffic and special arrangements for cross-border workers.  Those are still valid and vital in the second wave we are experiencing now. We are therefore asking member states, not least those which also act as transit routes for exports from other EU countries, to adhere to those guidelines, and adopt proportionate measures to keep their citizens safe while not unduly hindering the flow of goods and cross-border workers within the single market.

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COVID-19 - Dealing with regulatory burdens during the pandemic (Joint letter to Commissioner Šefčovič)

EuroCommerce has issued a joint letter (co-signed by Independent Retail Europe) which was sent to Commissioner Sefcovics on dealing with regulatory burdens in the retail and wholesale sector during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

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