* Commission task force analysing implications of Russian
* Member states to debate issue on Thursday
* Commissioner says funding is 'a signal of intent'
By Barbara Lewis
BRUSSELS, Aug 11 The European Commission will
provide financial support to EU peach and nectarine producers as
a result of Russia's import ban on European food and also
because of bad weather, it said on Monday.
Russia announced a one-year ban last week on imports of
meat, fish, dairy, fruit and vegetables from the United States,
the European Union, Canada, Australia and Norway.
The Commission, the EU executive, has said it is too early
to say whether EU farmers will be eligible for compensation from
a 400 million euro emergency fund, created as part of the
reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy.
But it said on Monday it had already decided to support
peach and nectarine growers by increasing from 5 percent to 10
percent the share of their production that can be withdrawn from
the market and distributed for free.
The EU compensates farmers for the unsold fruit and also
plans to provide extra funds for marketing. The Commission did
not specify how much money would be paid out.
"I will be proposing today that the European Commission take
immediate, retroactive measures aimed at reducing supply and
promoting demand," European Agriculture Commissioner Dacian
Ciolos said in a statement.
Referring to the 400 million euro emergency fund, Ciolos
said the support for peach and nectarine growers was "a signal
"We are monitoring markets closely, and I will not hesitate
to do likewise to assist other sectors dependent on exports to
Russia, should it be necessary," he said.
The Commission said the measures for the fruit producers,
which still need formal approval and a decision on precisely
which source of EU funding will be used, had already been under
consideration because of weather damage to crops.
Their situation has become more urgent, however, following
Russia's import bans.
France, Italy, Greece and Spain are the main producers of
the EU peach crop of 2.4-2.5 million tonnes per year and of the
nectarine crop of 1.1-1.2 million tonnes.
(editing by Jane Baird)