The Spanish agricultural organization ASAJA has expressed concern over recent events surrounding the bilateral negotiations to facilitate Turkey's accession to the EU, on account of matters totally unrelated to the agricultural sector. This weekend, a bilateral summit was held in which, in addition to financial assistance totalling 3,000 million euros, there were talks about the opening of the economic chapter in the middle of this month; one which is very likely to feature fruits and vegetables.

ASAJA believes that these political negotiations will be used "to offer deals in the field of fruit and vegetables in exchange for other services," but what the agricultural organization is most concerned about has to do with "the alleged lack of interest and the laxity in the controls at our borders. Since the first contact with Merkel, controls have become more lax, so the market for Turkish horticultural products has been liberalised in practice," stated Francisco Vargas, provincial president of ASAJA and head of the Organization's vegetable department. Thus, "the increased presence of Turkish products might cause our prices at origin to sink, since tomato and pepper prices especially are not normal, considering the existing production levels in Europe."

Almeria is one of Europe's leading producers of fruits and vegetables, and over the past month it has been suffering a crisis of prices at origin, exacerbated by an increased market presence of products from third countries, such as Turkey, and the impossibility to export to Russia.

The agricultural organization assures that some European countries "are not being sufficiently strict in the control of these imports, as we are all aware of the constant alerts generated by this country, not only for exceeding the maximum residue levels of pesticides, but also because of the presence of prohibited substances. In fact, Bulgaria has reported 11 alerts with Turkish peppers in November. We believe that this could jeopardise the food safety of millions of European consumers and that it can also result in unfair competition with other European producers, who must comply with those minimum standards."