The Agriculture & Fisheries Council will meet in Brussels on Monday 14 March (starting at 11 a.m.) under the Presidency of Mr Fernand Boden, Minister for Agriculture, Viticulture and Rural Development of Luxembourg.
Over lunch Ministers will be updated by the Commission on the state of play of the agricultural part of the Doha Development Round.
The points on the agenda are:
Control system applicable to the CFP
The Council will discuss the Commission proposal on the creation of a Community Fisheries Control Agency, tabled on 28 April 2004 (see IP/04/556). This agency is at the core of the European Union’s efforts to make enforcement of the fisheries rules more effective and uniform. Strengthened enforcement is one of the four pillars of the 2002 reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) which set it on the way to sustainability, not only in environmental, but also in economic and social terms. Stakeholders have long been calling for a level playing field in the control and monitoring of fisheries activities. Member States must ensure that all CFP rules are enforced on their territory, in the waters under their responsibility and by the fishing vessels flying their flags wherever they operate. However, gaps in the national enforcement systems and variations between them have eroded their effectiveness and stakeholders’ willingness to comply with the rules.
A permanent structure is therefore required to ensure operational co-operation between Member States by pooling the national means of monitoring and inspection. This will be the task of the Community Fisheries Control Agency. The agency will develop deployment plans devised at EU level. These will target specific stocks identified as being under threat due to their depleted state. They will also apply within the framework of international control and programmes. The setting up of multinational inspection teams in areas and fisheries where several Member States have an interest will bring savings and a more rational deployment of resources. The agency will also provide training of fisheries inspectors to help foster a common approach to monitoring and inspection tasks. In addition, it will ensure the co-ordination of the application of joint pilot projects to test new monitoring technologies and the development of joint operational control procedures. It could also provide services for Member States such as the chartering of inspection vessels or the deployment of observers within the framework of Regional Fisheries Organisations which aim to conserve fish in international waters.
The Council had a first exchange of views on the Commission proposal at the June 2004 meeting. This was followed, in October 2004, by a policy debate where Council stated its support for the creation of the agency as an instrument which would deliver more effective and uniform enforcement. The European Council decided in December 2003 that this agency would be located in Spain.
Negotiations with Russia on plant health
The Commission and the Presidency will inform the Council about the latest developments in the negotiations with the Russian Federation on uniform phytosanitary certificates for plant and vegetable products. Several Member States requested a fuller debate on this issue at the last Agriculture Council.
Trade difficulties encountered in the phytosanitary field with Russia and its request to negotiate with the Commission rather than with individual Member States have triggered a discussion at Council level in December 2004. Member States subsequently provided the Commission with the appropriate mandate to conduct these negotiations.
Several technical meetings and meetings at political level were held in the meantime and Commissioner Markos Kyprianou also had talks with his Russian counterparts in Moscow in February. Negotiations with Russian authorities are ongoing and Commissioner Kyprianou’s next meeting with Sergei Dankvert, Deputy Minister of Agriculture of Russia, is scheduled for 15 March.
The AOB point on the situation concerning the agreement with Russia on veterinary certificates will be taken directly after this point.
Support for rural development by the EAFRD
On 14 July 2004, the Commission adopted a proposal to reinforce the EU’s rural development policy and to greatly simplify its implementation (see IP/04/920, MEMO/04/180 and COM(2004) 490). Reflecting citizens’ demands to focus on the environment, food safety and quality, the Commission wants the EU’s rural development policy to play a more important role in the new, reformed Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
The three major objectives (or “axes”) for the future rural development policy are:
Improving competitiveness of farming and forestry
Environment and land management
Improving quality of live and diversification.
It is proposed to increase EU funding, amounting to total EU funding of € 13.7 billion per 2022 for 2007-2013. By introducing a single funding and programming instrument, the new policy will be much simpler to manage and control. Coherence, transparency and visibility will be increased. Member States and regions will have more freedom as to how to implement the programmes.
Ministers will continue the policy debate they started at the Council meeting of February. No decision is expected at this stage.
Risk and crisis management in agriculture
On 9 March, the Commission adopted a communication that reports on risk and crisis management tools available in the Member States and at EU level (IP/05/274). The document also looks at possible new measures to help farmers in the European Union manage risk and to provide an improved response to crises in the agricultural sector. Three options – agricultural insurance, mutual funds and an income crisis tool – are presented for discussion. Recent reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) encourage European farmers to be more market orientated. However, crises caused by natural disasters, livestock diseases or plant pests, or economic circumstances, may endanger a farm’s viability or even affect the economic stability of an entire rural area.
For details, see on the internet at:
Presentation of the Communication to the Ministers.
Implementation of the EU Forestry Strategy
In a Communcation reporting on the implementation of the EU Forestry Policy, adopted on 10 March, the Commission steps up its efforts on forestry by proposing the preparation of an EU Action Plan for Sustainable Forest Management. The need for an Action Plan has emerged from a review of the activities implemented in the context of the EU Forestry Strategy since its adoption in December 1998. The review shows that forests can provide multiple benefits to modern society and that these benefits are increasingly appreciated by the public. There has been progress in the sustainable management of EU forests over the last 2022s, but the policy context is changing and a more pro-active approach to governing the Union’s forests is needed in the future. The Commission believes that the development of an EU Action Plan for Sustainable Forest Management could provide the necessary impetus to transform the Strategy into a dynamic process capable of responding to the newly emerging expectations of society
For more information see IP/05/284 and at:
Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel will present the Commission report and ideas to the Ministers.
Protection of dolphins (UK request)
Situation concerning the agreement with Russia on veterinary certificates (written information by the Commission)
Drought in Portugal” (request by