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EU will sign food export agreement with Russia on January 19

The European Union will sign an agreement with the Russia government on January 19 that pledges to ensure food exports meet EU standards, averting a possible EU-wide embargo after Bulgaria and Romania joined the bloc. 

„Basically we're assuring them that no risky products will reach Russia,” said Philip Tod, spokesman for EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou, by phone. „The EU is guaranteeing that no products which don't meet EU standards will reach the internal market or be exported.” Russia said additional guarantees were needed after it backed down last month on a threat to ban shipments of beef, pork and poultry from the EU when Bulgaria and Romania became EU members on January 1 over food safety concerns. Talks, which will take place in Berlin after Germany took over the EU's six-month rotating presidency at the beginning of the year, will begin on January 17 between the EU, Russia and Poland, to end a year-old Russian embargo on Polish meat and vegetable products.

Poland was the only EU country to veto the bloc's talks with Russia in November, saying the negotiations on a new trade agreement could not go ahead until the ban, imposed after claims of hygiene law violations and smuggling, was lifted. „Of course we want to find a solution to the problems between Poland and Russia,” said German Agriculture and Consumer Protection Ministry spokeswoman Tanja Thiele by phone. „The meetings are taking place at the German government's request.” (Bloomberg)