The COVID-19 pandemic has heavily impacted and disrupted the EU Flower and Live Plants sector and market since early March 2020.
In an unprecedented exercise, the four organisations representing the various segments of the sector in the EU (UNION FLEURS, ENA, AREFLH and COPA-COGECA), have joined forces and mobilised their member organisations across EU Member States to collect structured inputs in order to measure the exact impact of COVID-19 on the sector during the peak of the crisis in March and April 2020. A total of 33 contributions from 17 EU countries were received during the month of May.
This unique Survey Report provides a first measurement of the actual economic impact of COVID-19 on the EU flower & live plants sector at large. Losses reported for the sector across the EU reached an estimated total of 4.12 billion EUR in March and April 2020 in 17 EU countries across the 4 sub-sectors cut flowers, pot plants, bulbs and nursery stock, accounting for close to 10% of the annual total EU market value.
This first estimate clearly 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 of the flower & live plants sector in the EU. 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 4 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 Report, the sector representatives stressed how the absence so far of financial support at EU level has 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. A coordinated financial support at EU level continues to be actively called for, also 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” urged the sector representatives.
The European Commission, despite clearly acknowledging that the EU flower & live plants sector has been the agricultural sector most impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, encouraged the sector to seek support via national level from the forthcoming Next Generation EU fund of 750 billion EUR - arguing that the EU agricultural budget itself cannot be mobilised 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 flowers and live plants under the EU Promotion scheme and called for investing in better sector statistics at EU level on production, trade and consumption to build a more refined collective intelligence of the sector. A stocktaking 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.