Are you sure you still want to buy from the high-priced, protectionist EU?

Graham Charles Lear
4 min readNov 23, 2023

YOU DO? Read on and I am sure you won't by the end of it.

Average EU agricultural prices rocketed by 23% last year — 4 countries raked most of it in

I take a look at the EU’s €537.5 billion agricultural industry — soaring prices, falling output

Last year the EU’s agricultural output fell by 3.1% but the prices continued their dramatic surge over the past two years. Four countries — France, Germany, Italy and Spain — were responsible for almost 60% of this.

With the EU continuing to engage in its protectionist policies, this helps to explain why EU consumers cannot benefit from cheaper products from around the world and why the EU trade deal that they craved with Australia fell by the wayside.

The soaring cost of agriculture in the EU

  • Total value in 2022. €537.5 billion
  • Increase over the previous year 19.0%
  • After accounting for the fall in output, overall costs rose by 22.8%

[Source: EU Commission, 16 Nov 2023.]

Countries can protect industries or can protect consumers — but they can’t generally do both

The agricultural lobby in Brussels is almost an industry unto itself. Try reforming the farming industry in the EU and before you can sing I’ve got a brand-new combine harvester there will be hundreds of French tractors blocking all the roads into Paris, dumping manure.

In terms of its contribution to the EU’s GDP, agriculture is tiny, amounting to just 1.4%. Despite this, the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) still accounts for 31% of the EU Commission’s total budget. This may be well down to where it was 20 years ago, but it remains massively disproportionate.

While the United Kingdom was still an EU member, in the last accounting period of 2014–2020, agricultural expenditure totalled a staggering €408.3 billion. [Source: EU Parliament 2023.]

The 23% average rise in costs disguises some huge variations by EU country

This sharp increase in the output value of the EU’s agricultural industry in 2022 reflected the higher values in all EU Member States.

The strongest rates of increase were in Estonia (+44.4%), Poland (43.2%) and Lithuania (+42.2%). Increases of between 20% and 35% were also recorded in Latvia, Germany, Finland, Ireland, Austria, Slovakia and Slovenia.

I should stress again that actual output fell across the EU, which is why the increase in the total output value is even more shocking.

EU food: Price of basic foodstuffs up by nearly 50% since January 2021

Bizarrely, this was not “caused by Brexit”

The EU Commission released a report on the increase in the price of four basic food items in the EU. My summary below reveals how basic prices affecting EU27 consumers are just as bad in the EU as in the UK.

Olive oil, potatoes, eggs and butter are just as much staple foodstuffs in the EU as they are in the UK. I present the latest figures from the EU Commission on Thursday about the price rises in these four items since Jan 2021

Price rises of four basic food items in the EU

Jan 2021 to Sept 2023

  • Olive oil : +75.3%
  • Potatoes : +53.1%
  • Eggs : +37.3%
  • Butter : +26.7%

[Source : EU Commission, 02 Nov 2023.]

The EU Commission’s report

The EU’s report relates to olive oil, potatoes, eggs, and butter. Here is what they said :-

“After substantial increases in 2022, food prices in the EU continued to rise also in 2023.”

“In September 2023, the price of olive oil was 75% higher than in January 2021. In January 2022, prices were already 11% higher than the same month of the year before, and between September 2022 and September 2023, prices registered a sharp increase.

“Potato prices were also on a staggering rise. Since January 2021, prices for potatoes increased by 53% in September 2023.”

“As for the prices of eggs, in September 2023, they were 37% higher than in January 2021.”

“In September, butter was 27% more expensive than in January 2021.”

- EU Commission, 02 Nov 2023

What is shown above is indexed by the EU to Jan 2021. These are ‘real’ price increases.

Whilst there has undoubtedly been inflation in the UK, the report above shows this is not confined to the UK. Across Europe there have been steep price increases. The latest report from the EU Commission about the rises in the prices of four staple foodstuffs proves this.

I have not been selective. I used the data released by the EU Commission. It was they who chose the four staple foodstuffs, not me. The average increase is over 48%.

Clearly this is not in any way “due to Brexit”. I wish I didn’t have to point out these things but given the ignorance and the vigorous activity of the Remainer-Rejoiner community it seems I must still do this. And if I don’t point these things out, who will?

Somehow this never made it onto the BBC or other pro-EU media outlets.

In the report today I have shown how the costs of sustaining an uncompetitive agricultural sector in the EU have rocketed. The farming lobby in Brussels is very powerful. This is why the Common Agricultural Policy still consumes almost one-third of the EU Commission’s budget.

Sources: EU Commission

--

--

Graham Charles Lear

What is life without a little controversy in it? Quite boring and sterile would be my answer.