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Compensation for devastating losses sustained by beekeepers in Evia

Question écrite de M. Emmanouil FRAGKOS - Commission européenne

Question de M. Emmanouil FRAGKOS,

Diffusée le 16 août 2021

Subject: Compensation for devastating losses sustained by beekeepers in Evia

Tens of thousands of hectares of pine forest have been ravaged by wildfires in Evia. Even if work is commenced immediately on restoration thereof, it will be two decades before honey can once more be produced there. In addition to full-time beekeepers, many inhabitants of the island have been keeping bees to supplement their income.

It is estimated that up to 500 000 hives annually were brought from all over Greece to the forests of Evia, which accounted for an estimated 70% of Greek honey production1. In addition, the intense heat has wiped out colonies of insects helping to produce honey in pine trees that were not actually consumed by the flames.

Even those bees that could be saved will be difficult to feed and extremely expensive to keep outside their forest environment, while the honey produced under these conditions will be of a substantially inferior quality. According to the Federation of Greek Beekeepers’ Associations, the resulting losses to their members this year are likely to be in excess of EUR 50 million. In addition, high temperatures have already been affecting thyme and the honey produced from it on the Greek islands.

Unfortunately, this means that imports of inferior honey from third countries, costing up to EUR 1.5 per kilo, compared with between EUR 3.7 and EUR 7 for Greek quality honey, are becoming increasingly tempting.

In view of this:

1. What action will the Commission take to assist the Greek beekeepers directly and indirectly affected?

2. What resources can be made available to Central Greece for the sustainable recovery of beekeeping in Evia?

1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUqofDA0R_o

Réponse - Commission européenne

Diffusée le 29 septembre 2021

Answer given by Mr Wojciechowski on behalf of the European Commission (30 September 2021)

The EU currently supports its beekeepers mainly through national apiculture programmes (2), which are co-financed under the common agricultural policy (CAP) with an annual budget of EUR 60 million, doubled with national co-financing.

These apiculture programmes can financially support technical assistance to beekeepers and beekeepers’ organisations and restocking of hives, measures that can be of particular relevance for beekeepers on the Greek island of Evia.

The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) (3) can provide both support for preventive actions and restoration of damage to agricultural potential and forests from forest fires, natural disasters and catastrophic events.

Member States need to adopt relevant measures in their Rural Development Programmes (RDPs). They may also submit emergency amendments to RDPs at any time to activate targeted response measures and allocate financial resources.

In addition, Greece may choose to grant state aid to compensate for such damages under the Agricultural Block Exemption Regulation (4) or the Agriculture state aid Guidelines (5).

There is indeed a specific state aid scheme (SA.45002 (2016/N) as prolonged by SA.59356 (2020/N)) that was authorised by the Commission to compensate for damages caused by natural disasters or by adverse climatic events.

This scheme will run until 31 December 2022. Moreover, the regulation on the de minimis aid in the agriculture sector (6) can be used for almost any kind of national support, including compensation for losses caused by wildfires in the apiculture sector.

⋅1∙ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUqofDA0R_o

⋅2∙ https://ec.europa.eu/info/food-farming-fisheries/animals-and-animal-products/animal-products/honey/national-apiculture-programmes_en

⋅3∙ Regulation (EU) No 1305/2013, Articles 18 & 21.

⋅4∙ Commission Regulation (EU) 702/2014 of 25 June 2014 declaring certain categories of aid in the agricultural and forestry sectors and in rural areas compatible with

the internal market in application of Articles 107 and 108 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, OJ L 193, 1.7.2014, p.1., as amended by OJ L 156, 20.6.2017, p.1., and by OJ L 48, 20.2.2019, p.1.

⋅5∙ European Union Guidelines for state aid in the agricultural and forestry sectors and in rural areas 2014 to 2020, OJ C 204, 1.7.2014, p. 1., as amended by OJ C 390,

24.11.2015, p.4, OJ C 139, 20.4.2018, p. 3 and OJ C 403, 9.11.2018, p. 10.

⋅6∙ OJ L 352, 18.12.2013.











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