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Sanctions-hit European farmers likely to get financial help from Brussels

The European Commission is mulling support for European farmers affected by a recent Russian import ban on most agricultural products. An emergency meeting will be held next week.

Moscow's import ban in retaliation for a series of US and EU sanctions against Russia prompted the European Commission to look for ways of cushioning the impact of the ban on farmers across the 28-nation bloc.

"I'm confident that our resilient farm sector will reorient rapidly towards new markets and opportunities," EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos said Friday, playing down widespread fears of tangible losses in the wake of cut-off export routes to Russia.

Senior agricultural experts from all EU member countries will hold an emergency meeting on August 14 to analyze the impact of the Russian ban on EU food imports.

Tapping emergency resources

Ciolos indicated farmers had to be supported financially while shifting to alternative markets, mentioning the possibility of payments from a special EU emergency fund, which could compensate losses incurred during a transitional period.

The Commissioner has already been in touch with a number of farm ministers over the issue, including Italy's. Rome now holds the rotating EU presidency until the end of the year.

In the past, roughly 10 percent of EU agricultural exports went to Russia, worth around 11 billion euros ($14.7 billion).

According to the EU executive, Russia's partial import ban affects European goods worth 5.2 billion euros.

hg/nz (Reuters, dpa)

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