MOSCOW, August 14 (RIA Novosti) — The EU commissioners are seeking ways of reducing the harmful impact that Russia's food import ban is causing the European economy, although it is early to speak of exact numbers of losses, experts say.
"We still feel it's a little bit soon to discuss the cost implications. We are looking at every product individually," said Roger Waite, a spokesman for the EU’s executive Commission, earlier this week as cited by the International Business Times.
According to the Associated Press, the EU agricultural export to Russia reached $15.8 billion in 2013. Thus, the estimated loss for the European economy could be about $16 billion, experts claim. Moreover, Russian sanctions may draw Europe into a market crisis, the French National Federation of Unions of Agricultural Operators warns.
Poland, Norway and Netherlands are among the "hardest-hit" economies due to the Russian food import ban, according to the International Business Times. Poland and Norway annually export over one billion dollars in agricultural goods to Russia, while Netherlands, Spain, Germany and Demark, supply about $850 million in food to the Russian market each year.
Meanwhile, Russia's sanctions have already caused a serious blow to the European agricultural sector, causing a sharp drop in prices. Apart from the Russian embargo, the European fruit market had also been hit by unfavorable weather conditions in spring and early summer this year.
"Following the recent decline in prices on the peach and nectarine markets, urgent action is needed to prop up the market," stated Dacian Ciolos, EU Agriculture Commissioner as quoted by the BBC, "We are monitoring markets closely and I will not hesitate to do likewise to assist other sectors dependent on exports to Russia, should it be necessary," he added.
The European Commission is thinking of ways to stabilize the situation. One option would be paying compensations of around 400 million euros ($535 million) to farmers. The aid will cost the EU up to $40 million in total, according to the BBC. Poland, Spain and France have already asked the EU leadership to compensate their financial losses.
"The decision that was adopted involves many political issues that exist between Russia and the European Union, and not just the EU. As a result, it may be necessary to compensate us for these political decisions - the producers who work all year and want to at least be paid enough at least to cover production costs," said Lorenzo Ramos, Spain’s Small Farmer’s Association representative in an interview with RT.
With the sanctions already implemented, the media are widely discussing the Russian view on the embargo. "Creamy French cheeses, Australian Ribeye steak and seafood risottos are heading off the menu at restaurants after the ban on imports of all fish, meat and dairy produce," writes The Chicago Tribune gloomily. However, no one looks to be shocked by such a prospective: "I am proud that we've stopped being the boy who gets bullied. It's about time," says Russian restaurateur Andrei Dellos, as quoted by the media outlet. "There won't be oysters, but we'll make do. We'll live without oysters."
Russia's independent Levada Center pollster admits that about 72 percent of Russians approve of the imposed sanctions. Vladimir Putin's approval ratings in Russia remain at their highest point as well.