GFMM desk: Industry representatives and farmers say the Coronavirus outbreak is disrupting food supply as they close their borders with other members of the EU block. Representatives and farmers of the industry said on Thursday (March 19, 2020).
Usually open and uncontrolled borders have tightened or even closed in response to the Coronavirus epidemic spreading to more than a dozen European Union countries.
Because of these measures, “delays and disruption at country borders have been observed for the delivery of certain agricultural and manufactured products, as well as packaging materials,” a joint statement, signed by trade associations representing EU farmers, food traders and the European food and drink industry, said.
They also warned of potential labor shortages in the food industry as the sector relies on workers moving across the bloc.
To try to avoid shortages of essential goods, food and medicines, EU leaders on Tuesday backed a proposal from the European Commission, the EU executive, to establish fast-track lanes at their countries’ frontiers, but they did not agree to keep internal borders open. The industry said that was not enough.
“We welcome the recent Commission guidelines on border management as a good first step. Despite these guidelines, however, we continue to face severe disruptions,” they said.
They urged EU countries and institutions to prepare contingency plans for possible shortages of workers.
“Given that the agri-food supply chain is highly integrated and operating across borders, any blocks of supply and workers will inevitably disrupt business. Our ability to provide food for all will depend on the preservation of the EU Single Market,” the statement said.
It was signed by the European Food Production Industry Trade Organization, Copa and Cogeca, and the EU Umbrella Association CELCAA for food and commodity trading companies.