The products rumoured to be under discussion could include pig products like pig fat and offal – but not pork meat – and specialist products such as cheeses with protected status, according to Agra Facts.
It emerged at a meeting of the European Agricultural Committee this week that some Member States, including France and the Netherlands, have been pushing for a bilateral lifting of the ban for their exports with Russia. However, the European Union has pushed for unity in the region’s approach, saying that Member States should work together toward a total lifting of the ban.
At a press briefing, EU Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan said: “The Commissioner, working together with the Member States in harmony, has agreed today at the meeting of the Council of Ministers that we would be working in solidarity with each other to ensure that it is an EU-Russian negotiation to deal with the sanitary and phytosanitary issues that have been ongoing since February 2014, and if the Russian authorities wish to engage with the EU on those issues they are very welcome to do so, but they will be doing so on the basis that Europe is united.”
Speaking at the same briefing, Latvian Agriculture Minister Jānis Dūklavs added: “I would like to stress that the import ban that was introduced by Russia in August 2014 has to be dealt with together for the whole European Union, and we cannot accept differentiated treatment toward the Member States.”
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced a complete ban on the import of beef, pork, fruit, poultry, cheeses and milk from the EU, US, Australia, Canada and Norway in August last year, in response to sanctions against Russia, which have been used as leverage in the conflict in Ukraine. The embargo was originally planned to last one year.
Russia is Europe's second-largest market for food and drink exports and has been an important consumer of Polish pig meat and Dutch fruit and vegetables in particular. Exports of food and raw materials to Russia were worth €12.2bn in 2013, following several years of double-digit growth.