Senior agricultural experts from all 28 EU countries will hold an emergency meeting next Thursday to analyse the impact of a Russian ban on EU food imports, the European Commission said today.
Moscow banned most food imports from the EU and the US on Thursday in retaliation for Western sanctions imposed over Russia’s actions in Ukraine. The Commission, the EU executive, has already said it reserves the right to respond and will set up a task force on Monday to assess the situation. “In the current context, the most important is to react in a proportionate and rapid way should the situation arise,” said European agriculture commissioner Dacian Ciolos.
Roughly 10 per cent of EU agricultural exports go to Russia annually and their value is around €11bn (£8.8bn), Commission figures show that Russia is a major buyer of European fruit and vegetables.
The Russian sanctions were seen as a tit-for-tat response to US and EU sanctions on Moscow after flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine.
As fighting continued between pro-Russian separatists and Kiev forces – with at least three civilians reported dead in overnight shelling – the Dutch-led forensic team working on the remains of the passengers said it had identified 23 victims so far.
Justice ministry spokesman Jean Fransman said these include 18 Dutch, two Malaysians, a Canadian, a German and a Briton. All their families have been notified.