European fruit growers could be able to export apples and pears to the U.S. this year, the European Union executive said Saturday, after the publication of new American rules. Hit by Russian sanctions against them, EU producers are eager for new markets.

A joint statement by the EU health, trade and agricultural commissioners welcomed the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s publication of draft measures to be taken by EU growers and other authorities that it said were “a necessary step.” The statement said, “Opening the market for the 2016 harvest, i.e., by September 2016, could be feasible, if all parties continue their efforts.”

It estimated the projected value of exports to the U.S. at around 10 million euros ($11 million), or a 0.5 percent market share, which it said was modest but would be “a welcome relief to a sector under severe strain.”

Moscow in 2014 imposed an embargo on meat, fish, dairy, fruit and vegetables from both the EU and U.S. in retaliation for Western sanctions.

The EU, which is working toward a much grander trade deal with the U.S., the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), said it has been increasing levels of engagement at the highest level. It has been seeking to simplify U.S. market access since 2007 for eight fruit-growing EU nations: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Spain.