An emergency measure on the duty-free import of 70,000 tons of Tunisian olive oil was backed Monday by the European Parliament (EP) Trade Committee.
The move, designed to give a boost to the Tunisian economy, follows a proposal tabled by the European Commission.
“If the full parliament follows the trade MEPs’ recommendation, a two-year temporary zero-duty tariff quota of 35,000 tons per year (70,000 tons in total) for EU olive oil imports from Tunisia will be available from January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2017,” reads an EP press release.
“It will however apply without increasing the overall volume of imports from Tunisia.” (the EU will discount duties from the olive oil Tunisia is already exporting to the EU.)
The European Commission’s proposed exceptional measure was backed by 31 votes to 7, with one abstention.
An additional provision on mid-term assessment was introduced to weigh the impact of the measure on the European olive oil market, after its entry into force, and take corrective measures should the balance of the European market be disturbed.
“At a time when Tunisia is facing very serious problems, our vote gives the right signal: that the EU stands alongside Tunisians and that we intend to exercise solidarity in a tangible way,” said Rapporteur Marielle de Sarnez after the vote.
“I know that for colleagues from some countries, the question of olive oil is a sensitive one. I want to reassure them that the amendment we adopted provides that, if after a year we realize that there is indeed a problem, the commission may then take steps to rectify imbalance,” she added.