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Brussels, 19 February 2003

Preparation Agriculture Council of February 2003

The Agriculture & Fisheries Council will meet in Brussels on Thursday 20 February (starting at 11 a.m.) under the Presidency of Mr Georgios DRYS, Minister for Agriculture of Greece.

The Council will start with the "Food safety" items and continue with the "Agriculture" points on the same day. No fisheries points are on the agenda.

The main points on the agenda are:

Food Safety

    Authorisation of an additive (avilamycin) in feedingstuffs

    The Council is asked to decide on a Regulation, proposed by the Commission (COM(2003)39), extending the provisional authorisation for use of avilamycin - an antibiotic preparation - as a growth promotor in feed for turkeys.

    Official food and feed controls

    On 5 February 2003 the Commission adopted a proposal for a Council Regulation on official food and feed controls (see COM(2003) 52 - IP/03/182 - MEMO/03/24). The proposed Regulation will streamline and reinforce the existing control system with added bite, consisting of stricter enforcement mechanisms. The proposal aims to cure weaknesses in current legislation by improving the efficiency of control services performed by both Member States and the Commission. It defines tougher enforcement measures, including criminal sanctions. The proposal also creates a framework to support developing countries in meeting EU import requirements and provides for a financial framework to organise activities that enhance food and feed safety.

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

    GMO : seeds anc co-existance

    In November 2002, the Agriculture Council reached political agreement on a Regulation establishing a sound EU system to regulate the placing on the market and labelling of food and feed products derived from GMOs (see IP/02/1770). At the December and January Council the question on the co-existance between GMO and non-GMO seeds was raised by different delegations.

    M. Fischler and Byrne will inform the Council on the future work on this subject: The Commission is due to discuss a Communication on life sciences and biotechnology and a Communication on the co-existance of GMO, conventional and organic crops at its meeting of 5 March. These Communications will be the basis for further discussions.


    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:

    The Greek presidency will report on the progress of the discussions in the Council's working groups on the different legislative proposals on the CAP reform. No in-depth debate is expected at this stage.

    WTO and agriculture

    Ministers could agree to add this point to the agenda. The Presidency's intention is to ask the Commission to report on the state of play on the agriculture negotiations at the WTO and on Harbinson's draft modalities paper on agriculture following the WTO Mini Ministerial in Tokyo..

    Other business

    Request by the Italian delegation for permission to grant a national aid (agricultural cooperatives).

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