"Together in the market" was the motto of the celebration of the Day of the Netherlands in Almeria, which took place last week in the Chamber of Commerce. Here they highlighted the need "to stand together to put pressure on the European Union to improve the conditions for fruit and vegetables from both Dutch and Spanish producers." It was also a day to exchange ideas regarding the horticultural business.
Both the Dutch ambassador, Matthijs van Bonzel, and the Secretary of Agriculture and Food of the Andalusian Government, Rafael Peral, conveyed the message that it was necessary for both parties to join forces and cooperate to improve the conditions under which the activity is carried out within the European Union.
It should not be forgotten that Dutch and Almerian producers are competitors in the market, especially in Germany, one of the most important customers for both; however, there are many aspects they have in common, especially that "we are the largest producers of fruit and vegetables in Europe," said the Dutch ambassador. "If we are the two biggest producers, we have a lot to say in the fields of research, aid, rules, etc., within the European Union. If we unite and go to Brussels and explain our position, they have to listen to us." In this regard, Matthijs van Bonzel mentioned two of the great advantages they have: on the one hand, Spain's knowledge about environmentally-friendly practices, and on the other hand, the Netherlands' research and logistics capacity.
The Dutch ambassador argued that there are good reasons to ask non-EU competitors, such as Morocco, to meet the same phytosanitary standards as those required for European products, and for these to be produced under similar labour and environmental conditions.
The cooperation that the Dutch ambassador was referring to is also seen as the way to expand into new markets. He assured that "the collaboration between both parties can make it easier for the products to reach destinations as far afield as America or Japan; this can be achieved with Spanish produce and Dutch logistics."
Rafael Peral, who agreed with the Dutch ambassador on the idea of creating a common lobby in the European Union, spoke about issues that are already starting to be discussed in Europe and that can affect the future of the horticultural sector; such as the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) beyond 2020. In this regard, the General Secretary of Agriculture and Food of the Government of Andalusia commented that "we have to work together in the European context, in a CMO that we share and in which we understand that it is important to work together on relevant issues affecting the horticultural sector of both countries." It is an appropriate moment, Peral said, "because we are already beginning to talk about the CAP beyond 2020, and this brings issues to the table that are of great interest to Almeria, but also to the Netherlands, such as price stabilization or income insurances, among others."
The conference was attended by producers and traders from Almeria and from the Netherlands, and also included the participation of a representative of the Dutch Ministry of Economy and of the Director General of Production and Markets of the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Fernando Miranda. The Day was closed by Diego Martínez Cano, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Almeria, who, in line with the spirit of the event, encouraged Dutch and Almeria to collaborate and cooperate.