The EU may well be looking at the prospect of a protracted trade debacle with Russia, according to the EU Commission’s Secretary General Catherine Day.

“And this will, almost certainly, have implications for the current EU food import ban,” she said.

“The EU wants to have a transparent relationship with Russia at all levels. But I cannot see this state of affairs developing in the short term.
“The reality is that Europe’s food industry must look to a future that is less reliant on exports to Russia. And, in the same context, Europe will have no option but to become less reliant on energy imports from Russia.”

The Commission representative was speaking at a press conference, hosted specifically for members of the Irish media in Brussels earlier this week. “We find it extremely difficult to assess how Russia is developing its own policies, across a wide range of issues,” she said.

“What we do know is that our own sanctions are starting to have a real effect. But it is impossible to gauge whether this will bring Russia to the negotiating table in the near future. President Putin seems to be of the view that the current discord between Russia and the EU may well settle down of their own accord over a period of time.

“This may or may not be the case. But what I do know is that the EU food sector must find a way forward without the degree of reliance on Russian markets that would once have been the case.”

Turning to the current EU: US trade negotiations, Catherine Day said that it will take at least 12 months to secure a formal trade deal.
“Agriculture will be an integral part of the final package.

“In our own case we have made it quite clear to Washington that Europe will never accepted hormone beef. And we have highlighted our specific concerns with regard to the future development of GM technology.

“However, the bigger prize is that of securing an over-arching deal that will meet the main requirements of both Europe and the US. My concern is that there has been too much media coverage given to the negative aspects of the negotiations, from an EU perspective, rather than focusing on the real benefits that can be secured.”