MEP for Ireland South and Leader of Fine Gael, in the European Parliament, Seán Kelly, has called on the European Commission to come forward with a financial instrument aimed at facilitating easier access to finance for farmers to support their activities as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact upon incomes.
Speaking from Killarney today (Wednesday) ahead of the European Parliament’s plenary session this week, Mr. Kelly made the following comments.
“The actions to support farmers taken by the European Commission in terms of offering advances on direct payments, lowing the administrative burden and providing private storage aid, for example, are very welcome, however more needs to be done in line with the scale of the challenge facing our farmers today.
“For this reason, I believe the Commission needs to come forward with an ambitious programme, modelled on the EU’s €2.3bn COSME programme, which is currently successfully helping thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises access finance though guarantees, loans and equity capital.
“COSME uses the EU budget to provide guarantees to banks so they can provide more loan and lease finance to SMEs. By establishing a similar programme specifically for agriculture, the EU budget could be used to encourage banks to provide needed liquidity to our farmers at far more competitive interest rates than are currently available.
“At a time when the pandemic is causing huge disruption in agricultural markets, we must do all we can at EU level to ensure farmers have sufficient funds to keep their operations going. I will be engaging with Agricultural Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski and Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton in the coming weeks to explore the possibility of such direct support being provided”, he said.