Hungarian-French relations should be further strengthened

We are committed to strengthening Hungarian-French agricultural, political and trade relations – said István Nagy, the Minister of Agriculture, who welcomed Claire Legras, the Ambassador of France in Budapest, in his office.

The minister drew attention to the fact that Hungary maintains good relations with France both on a professional and agricultural policy level. The interests of Hungarian and French farmers coincide, so the French opinion is always a very important guide for us.

The Minister also mentioned that at the beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian war the Ukrainian ports were closed, therefore Ukrainian grain could not get to its traditional markets via its traditional routes, which is why the Solidarity Lane was created, however, it does not work according to its original purpose. Land freight is much more expensive than sea shipping, so grain is stuck in border countries. The situation is further complicated by the fact that the Ukrainian agricultural products can be bought significantly cheaper than the Hungarian grain, which practically stopped the domestic grain market that put farmers into impossible situation. He drew attention to the fact that in remote parts of the EU this is not felt so much, because there is no price advantage there due to the high transport costs. Production conditions in Ukraine are different, farmers have to meet different requirements than EU farmers. If these products are allowed into the European Community’s markets without control, it will fundamentally transform the entire agricultural economy. Our country shows solidarity with Ukraine, but the interests of Hungarian farmers must also be protected – he added. István Nagy also pointed out that our country has not blocked transit shipments so far, and even increased the transfer capacities in order to speed up the onward shipment of products. He explained that solutions must be found at European level to prevent the effects of market distortion caused by Ukrainian agricultural products. Although Brussels has taken action, the problem cannot be solved by providing support to the Member States concerned. The EU should develop a system, and provide it with sources, to allow these crops to leave the front countries and reach traditional markets.

At the meeting the agricultural and food geographical indicators (GI) concerning grape and wine, the possibility of strengthening cooperation in the field of agricultural vocational training and the use of pesticides were also discussed. The Minister emphasized that Hungary agrees that the use of pesticides should be reduced at EU level, however to make this decision it is necessary to know the price increase of food. The European Commission’s lawnmower-like reduction proposal for all Member States did not take into account the different starting points of each Member State and the results achieved so far. In connection with the negotiations on Free Trade Agreements István Nagy said it should be kept in mind that only imported products can be placed on the market in the EU which production rules and conditions are the same as EU regulations and requirements.