BRUSSELS, Belgium: The brutal impact of Covid-19 on the EU’s ornamental horticulture has been confirmed by a survey conducted among the members of the international flower trade association Union Fleurs, the European Nursery Stock Association ENA, the Assembly of European Horticultural Regions AREFLH and agricultural trade body COPA-COGECA. They found that the financial impact of the coronavirus has produced a revenue loss of €4.12 billion between March and April 2020, which equals to almost 10 per cent of the annual total EU market value.
The feedback from 33 respondents in 17 EU countries is representative of the EU’s ornamental horticulture including four market segments: fresh cut flowers, potted plants, bulbs and nursery stock products.
The business survey demonstrates the brutal impact that the pandemic and lockdown measures implemented across the EU have had on the sector during the peak of the Spring season. These losses will never be recovered and will have to be absorbed by the thousands of companies.
Coupled with the lack of a uniform and coordinated response so far by national governments across the EU, this further reinforces the need for a more meaningful and direct EU financial support to the sector.
The four organisations have brought this strong message to the European Commission’s DG AGRICULTURE during a meeting with the Deputy Director General last week. Building on the key takeaways from the survey, the sector representatives stressed how the absence so far of financial support at EU level had not ensured the best conditions for the viability of production and market structures across the EU going forward.
“As the market situation is overall far from being yet normalised despite a re-start of activities in most EU countries since May, perspectives remain uncertain for the sector across the EU. Active calls for coordinated financial support at EU level continues. Also, there is a need to preserve the integrity of the EU Single Market and secure a fair operating environment across the EU without risking any distortions of competition on the market” states the survey.
Despite clearly acknowledging that ornamental horticulture in the EU has been the agricultural sector most impacted by the Covid-19 crisis, the European Commission encourages the sector to seek support via national level. To apply from the forthcoming Next Generation EU fund of €750 billion – arguing that the EU agricultural budget itself will not mobilise to provide direct support to this sector or any other agricultural sectors.
Sector representatives also highlighted the need for a dedicated budget for the promotion of cut flowers and living plants under the EU Promotion scheme and called for investing in sector statistics at EU level on production, trade and consumption to build a more refined collective intelligence of the sector. A meeting has been agreed with the European Commission for the end of the year to review the situation of the sector with the full year 2020 in perspective.