Opening of the twinning project on plant health in Ukraine

Kiew, Ukraine
Parliamentary Secretary Dr. Gerd Müller

Speech Parliamentary State Secretary Dr. Gerd Müller Kick-Off Twinning-Project "Supporting Ukraine in approximating its phytosanitary legislation and administration with European standards", 18. September 2012, Kiew.

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I am delighted to be here today alongside Deputy Minister Sen for the launch of the new Twinning project, designed to support the Ukraine in its alignment with European standards on plant health.

1. The Ukraine – a key partner for Germany

As an EU neighbouring country, the Ukraine is a strategic political partner for Germany. We welcome the decisions and declarations of the Ukrainian governments regarding their efforts to press ahead with European integration. In this regard, practical policies are needed to turn these decisions into reality.

First and foremost, the Ukraine has considerable agricultural potential. This potential can be used not only to provide for the Ukrainian population; your agricultural products can supply other regions of the world too. A significant share of the country’s overall economic development can therefore be attributed to farming and the agricultural sector as a whole.

Germany can be a partner for the Ukraine - in modernising and diversifying structures and in gradually bringing the country’s agricultural policy framework into line with European standards.

It is precisely because the Ukraine is a key partner for us that we have strengthened our bilateral cooperation in the agricultural sector over recent years.

We are now actively involved in the Ukraine in four bilateral projects. I would like to make particular mention at this point of the Ukrainian-German Agricultural Policy Dialogue, which has been managed here on the ground here since 1 September 2012 by Dr Sasse. Many people will no doubt be familiar with Mr Sasse as Attaché of the German Embassy in Kiev. Another key bilateral cooperation project for us with the Ukraine is the German Agricultural Centre in the Ukraine (DAZ) in Potash.

However, the Ukraine is also an important trading partner for Germany. The volume of trade between the Ukraine and Germany currently stands at more than EUR 7 billion, of which agricultural and food products account for some EUR 600 million. More than 10 percent of the goods that Germany imports from the Ukraine are agricultural and food products. This is a sizeable share!

In terms of the agricultural sector, the Ukraine’s foreign trade balance is positive, with a surplus of around 50 percent. The contribution made by the agricultural sector to the country’s exports increased further in 2011 (around 18 percent). In the 2010/2011 financial year, you exported a total of some 13 million tonnes of cereals – a huge quantity! (including 4.2 million tonnes of wheat, 3.0 million tonnes of barley and 5.1 million tonnes of maize)

2. Twinning – an excellent instrument for cooperation

Twinning projects can help in integrating your country into Europe. They encourage the alignment of policy frameworks with European standards and are therefore very important in Germany’s view. We regard Twinning not only as a strategic tool for increasing bilateral contacts with partners but also as a means with which to intensify the foreign trade activities of the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection.

Since 1998, our ministry has carried out around 145 Twinning projects, thereby placing us near the top of the EU table. The alignment of standards leads to harmonisation which reduces distortions of competition and in turn makes it easier for us to trade with our neighbours.

At present, the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection is playing an active role in nine projects in eight countries. And we are willing to carry out further Twinning projects so as to support your country in institution building.

3. The plant health Twinning project – a step towards competitive trade

The policy area of plant health has become increasingly important over recent years, both in Germany and worldwide. A well-established system for protecting plant health providing a high level of phytosanitary protection based on international regulations and standards is key to ensuring sustainable plant production, plant health in the agricultural landscape and competitive trading in plants and plant products.

The harmonisation of the Ukraine’s legal system with European Union regulations as well as a stronger focus on internationally recognised standards have a dual role; not only do they serve to protect plant production in the Ukraine and Europe but they are also a prerequisite for improving mutual trade and, by extension, export opportunities for the Ukraine. In this regard, increasing attention must be paid to the constantly growing product requirements in terms of phytosanitary risks.

It is therefore a particular pleasure for me to be able to launch the Twinning project on plant health today together with you, Deputy Minister Sen. The project, which will last almost two years, will help to strengthen the partnership between Germany and the Ukraine on a sustainable basis.

In Dr Gerhard Gündermann, Vice-President of the Julius Kühn-Institut (JKI) in Germany, you have an experienced project manager. He has an excellent network and is an authority on Twinning as an instrument, having already managed a plant health project in Turkey.

The JKI is responsible for research and policy advice in the areas of plant health, arable farming and soil science, plant protection and for the breeding of agricultural and horticultural crops as well as grapevine breeding. The JKI is held in the highest regard internationally. Its duties also include involvement on a professional level in drawing up national, European and international regulations. In 2008, the Institute was named after Julius Kühn, the founder of modern plant pathology in Germany in the 19th century.

The JKI has 15 research institutes, one of which is responsible exclusively for plant health. Its head, Dr Unger, and his staff have gained excellent experience in the field of plant health and the preparation of phytosanitary standards over many years. They too will contribute to the success of the project in their capacity as short-term experts.

The truly European nature of the project is shown by the Twinning team. I would like to take this opportunity to welcome the two project managers for our partners from France and Latvia. Mr Blanchet (France) and Mr Grosbardis (Latvia), I am pleased that we will be carrying out this project together. In addition to experts from France and Latvia, the project also involves experts from Lithuania.

Mr Agris Bokums is the long-term expert, the Resident Twinning Adviser (RTA); in other words, he is the backbone of the project. Mr Bokums joins us from the Latvian State Plant Protection Service and is therefore a highly experienced expert in plant health. He began his work here in Kiev two weeks ago. We believe that this provides a very strong foundation for a successful project.

4. Closing remarks

Ladies and gentlemen, The speakers following me will provide you with more detailed information regarding the content of the project. To end, I would like to wish all of us a successful project. We have a very solid basis for it to be a success. The project provides the opportunity to internationalise plant health provisions in the Ukraine and to adapt them in line with EU standards.

The knowledge shared by the various experts is ideally suited to achieving this aim. By training inspectors and through quality assurance measures, this project means that you are making a sustainable investment in the future.

I look forward to a fruitful collaboration. You can count on our support.


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