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Preparation Agriculture/Fisheries Council of January 2003

European Commission - MEMO/03/16   24/01/2003

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MEMO/03/16

Brussels, 24 January 2003

Preparation Agriculture/Fisheries Council of January 2003

The Agriculture & Fisheries Council will meet in Brussels on Monday 27 (starting at 3 p.m.) and Tuesday 28 January under the Presidency of Mr Georgios BRYS, Minister for Agriculture of Greece.

On Monday the Council will start with the Agriculture points of the agenda with a public debate on CAP reform from 3.30 to 5.30 p.m. and will continue with the Fisheries points. On Tuesday (starting at 10 a.m.) the Council will discuss the Food Safety points.

On Monday evening a Council dinner is foreseen. The theme of discussion is "WTO/Agriculture: the EC's proposal for modalities in the WTO agriculture negotiations"

The main points on the agenda are:

Agriculture

    Presidency programme of work

    The Greek Presidency will present its work programme for the first six months of 2003.

    CAP reform: a long term perspective for sustainable agriculture

    On 22 January 2003, the Commission adopted a package of proposals to reform the Common Agricultural Policy (COM(2003) 23 - IP/03/99). The Commission proposal will provide EU farmers with a clear policy perspective to go with the financial framework until 2013 for agricultural expenditure, as decided by the Heads of State and Government in Brussels in October 2002. It will also make European agriculture more competitive and market oriented, promote a substantial simplification in the CAP, facilitate the enlargement process and help to better defend the CAP in the WTO. The proposed adjustments allow farmers maximum flexibility in production decisions while guaranteeing them income stability. The implementation of the Commission reform would remove environmentally negative incentives in the current policy and provide further encouragement for more sustainable farming practices. These adjustments are necessary to ensure that the EU is able to provide a sustainable and predictable policy framework for the European Model of Agriculture over the coming years. Such changes are made even more urgent by the new budgetary framework. These changes will enable the EU to ensure a transparent and more equitable distribution of income support for farmers, and to better respond to what our consumers and taxpayers want. The proposals are the follow-up to the Commissions midterm review proposals from July 2002.

    Further information on the Commission's reform proposal are available on the internet at:

    http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/mtr/index_en.htm

    M. Fischler will present the Commission proposals and during a "tour de table" all Ministers will give their first reaction to the proposals. The discussions on this point are public and can be followed in the press room from the Council.

Fisheries

The agenda for the January Fisheries Council stands in sharp contrast to that of last month when Council had to take a series of decisions on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). The following points on the agenda for the meeting taking place on 27 and 28 January 2003 are as follows:

    Community Action Plan for the integration of environmental protection requirements into the Common Fisheries Policy Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament

    The Council will adopt its conclusions on the Action Plan which the Commission presented as part of its first package of reform proposals in May 2002. This Action Plan responds to both the obligation for all EU policies to take into account the environmental dimension and to the Council invitation, to the Commission on 25 April 2001, to make concrete proposals on environmental integration within the framework of the reform of the CFP.

    To address the problem of by-catches of sensitive species, proposals are foreseen for measures to promote the protection of, for example, dolphins, sharks and marine birds. Indeed, last August, the Commission issued proposals to protect sharks including the prohibition of "finning" - involving the removal of fins and discarding of carcasses - of sharks. It will shortly propose measures to reduce by-catches of cetaceans such as dolphins and harbour porpoises.

    In its Action Plan, the Commission also foresees measures to increase the selectivity of fishing gear through the use of various devices, restrictions on fishing to protect young fish, sensitive non-target species and habitats, incentives to direct research efforts towards a better understanding of the role of fisheries in the functioning of the marine ecosystem and the development of indicators on environmental integration.

    Community Strategy for the sustainable development of European Aquaculture - Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament

    The Council will adopt its conclusions on the Strategy for the sustainable development of European aquaculture issued by the Commission last September as part of the CFP reform proposals. The aim of this strategy is to strengthen the role of aquaculture which is a valuable source of both jobs in coastal areas and quality fisheries products for consumers.

    The Commission proposes various measures to create jobs, ensure the safety of aquaculture products and develop an aquaculture industry that is environmentally and economically sound. The Strategy proposes measures to increase production through diversification in new species, stimulate the market for aquaculture products, strengthen scientific research, develop new environment and health standards, reduce the impact of aquaculture waste as well as the risk from escaped fish, other species and genetically modified organisms.

    Communication on an integrated framework for fisheries partnerships agreements with third countries

    The Commission will present to the Council its Communication, adopted on 23 December 2002, on ways to improve the EU Fisheries Agreements with developing coastal states.

    The Commission proposes that Fisheries Agreements move from 'access agreements' to 'Partnership Agreements' which contribute to responsible fishing in the mutual interest of the Parties concerned. The aim is to ensure the protection of the interests of the EU distant-water fishing fleet and to establish the conditions necessary to ensure sustainable fisheries in the waters of the partner countries. The same principle of sustainable fisheries should apply equally to fisheries in EU waters and in third country waters.

    In future, the financial contribution paid to the third country would be regarded as an investment for the improvement of responsible and rational fishing. The Commission also encourages the development of a policy dialogue in the fisheries field to help partners establish a fisheries policy that would deliver sustainable fisheries. This would help maintain the quality, diversity and availability of fisheries resources for food security, poverty alleviation and sustainable development.

    Proposal for a Council Regulation for the conservation of fishery resources through technical measures for the protection of juveniles of marine organisms.

    This proposal, adopted by the Commission on 3 December 2002, aims to include in a single Regulation many rules which have already been agreed either by the Council or through a Commission Regulation. It also contains some new proposals relating to, for example, by-catch composition, fishing areas and static nets.

    Other topics

      Management of fishing effort

      The Irish delegation will draw the attention of the Council to the need for an early decision by the Council on the Commission proposal for a Council Regulation on the management of fishing effort relating to certain Community areas and resources. This proposal, presented to the December Council, aims to replace the existing fishing effort regime applicable to the area generally referred to as 'western waters' extending from the Bay of Biscay to the waters to the west and north-west of the British Isles. (See MEMO/02/302).

Food Safety

    Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD)

    The Commission adopted in December 2002 a proposal for revised and improved legislation on EU measures to control outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease (COM(2002) 736 - IP/02/1913). FMD is a highly contagious viral disease. It is not dangerous for humans but outbreaks among livestock are associated with exceptionally high economic consequences, as seen most recently in the EU in 2001.

    The amended Directive outlines procedures on how to recover "free of FMD without vaccination" status, which is of crucial importance for trade. Control actions are supplemented with measures to ensure a high level of preparation against the disease. The Commission is given a key role in managing an outbreak in partnership with the Member States.

    M Byrne will present the Commission proposal to the Council.

    Identification and registration of ovine and caprine animals

    In December 2002, the Commission adopted a proposal for a Regulation on the identification and registration of sheep and goats (COM(2002) 729 - IP/02/1915), as part of its ongoing efforts to prevent the spread of animal diseases. Stopping animal disease epidemics requires quick action. To do this it must be possible to determine easily the place of origin of an animal as well as its movements throughout the EU. The proposed Regulation will reinforce current measures, specifically by introducing gradually in all Member States an identification system to mark each animal, making it possible to trace the individual movements of sheep and goats

    M. Byrne will present the draft Regulation to the Council.

    Newcastle disease in the USA

    Since October 2002 several outbreaks of Newcastle disease have been confirmed in the west of the United States of America. This disease is a contagious disease in poultry that causes major losses in the sector if spread. It does not affect humans.

    As a result of the outbreaks and in accordance with the Directive introducing EU measures for the control of Newcastle disease and the veterinary agreement between the EU and the USA, exports of live poultry, fresh poultry meat and poultry products (i.e. hatching eggs) from the entire territory of the USA cannot take place any longer.

    In the framework of the regionalisation policy , agreed in the veterinary agreement, the Council will discuss a possible limitation of the import restrictions to a part of the USA.

    BSE

    M. Byrne will update the Ministers on the situation with regard to BSE, on the implementation in the Member states of protective measures to fight BSE and on the future actions on this subject.

    Other business

    Under other business the Council will discuss, among other things:

    • Imports of poultry meat from non-EU countries

    •  GMO seed: Co-existance with non-GMO production chains

    •  Authorization of new GMO food products

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