European Union (EU) agriculture commissioner Mariann Fischer-Boel has signalled that the commission will soon propose an emergency subsidy package to prop-up the EU poultry industry, which has been ravaged by bird flu.

The Dane said a special fast-track procedure would be used, with the aim of securing approval by 25 April. She told an EU Council of Ministers, meeting yesterday (21 March), that the money would help the industry deal with both bird flu related veterinary controls and “the crisis of the market caused by the lack of confidence of consumers”.

Costs will be shared by the EU and member states, and the scheme will only apply in a country whose government have formally requested assistance. Existing national state aid resources would also be authorised to help poultry producers.

That said, Fischer-Boel expressed “reservations” about calls for the EU to launch a promotional campaign to encourage poultry production, preferring that such actions were taken by member states.