EU suspends aid to farmers hit by Russian embargo
The EU on Wednesday suspended 125 million euros ($170 million) in aid to growers hit by a Russian fruit and vegetable embargo following what EU sources said were dubious compensation claims, especially from Poland.
Last month, the European Commission announced a series of emergency measures for growers hit by a ban on fruit and vegetable imports, which Moscow imposed in retaliation for EU sanctions over alleged support for rebels in Ukraine.
The Commission said in a statement Wednesday that it had suspended the aid programme "after questionable claims" and would introduce a "more targeted scheme" within days.
It said it took the action due to a "disproportionate surge in demands where demands for some products are several times higher than the total EU average annual exports to Russia."
An EU source said on condition of anonymity that the Commission "has serious doubts that the figures submitted by Poland are realistic" and had asked for verification.
The source said for example that Polish compensation demands for cucumbers and gherkins were equivalent to 487 percent of annual EU exports to Russia.
The aid, which was supposed to be effective from mid-August until November, mainly involves withdrawing products from the EU market in a bid to prop up prices.
It is designed to cover tomatoes, carrots, white cabbage, peppers, cauliflowers, cucumbers, as well as mushrooms, apples, pears, berries, grapes and kiwi fruit.
The Russian embargo, set to last for a year, covers imports of meats, fruits and vegetables, fish, and dairy products from the European Union, the United States, Australia, Canada and Norway.
© 2014 AFP