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Brussels, 23 November 2004
The Agriculture/Fisheries Council yesterday discussed the “Food safety”, “Agriculture” and “Research” point of the agenda. The meeting will continue today with the “Fisheries” items. A separate MEMO on the fisheries part will follow later.
The Council reached political agreement on a Regulation on animal transport, which will increase animal welfare by radically improving the enforcement of animal transport rules in Europe. The Regulation increases accountability by identifying clearly who is responsible for what throughout the animals’ journey and introduces new, more efficient enforcement tools such as checks via a satellite navigation system from 2007. It also introduces much stricter rules for journeys of more than 8 hours, including substantial upgrading in vehicles standards. The Regulation recognises that most of the stress on the animals occurs around loading and unloading and therefore introduces rules to deal with situations before and after transport, for example at slaughterhouses or at harbours.
Details on the Regulation are available in IP/04/1391
The Council held a “tour de table” on the reform of the EU sugar regime. Commissioner Fischer Boel observed that there was a consensus that the status quo was unsustainable. She said that the Commission’s Communication from July 2004 was a good basis for further discussions, but stressed that the formal reform proposals must take account of international developments, not least the final result of the WTO panel brought by Brazil, Australia and Thailand. She said she would bring forward proposals in May or June and hoped that a political agreement could be reached in time for the WTO ministerial meeting in Hong Kong in December 2005.
The Council held a debate on the Commission’s proposals to reinforce Rural Development policy and simplify its implementation. The proposals aim to improve competitiveness, improve the environment and the countryside through support for land management and enhance the quality of life and promote diversification.
Commissioner Fischer Boel concluded that there was a consensus on the general principles and characteristics of the future policy. She called for efforts to be made to reach a political agreement on a finalised text as soon as possible during the first half of next year.
Agriculture related research
Council discussed increasing co-operation between research funders and programme managers in the domain of Agriculture, Food, Rural Development and Fisheries. It noted the readiness of the European Commission to organise a high level meeting on the basis of the Standing Committee for Agricultural Research (SCAR) platform under the Luxembourg presidency in February 2005. There was general agreement on the need for strengthened cooperation between ministries of agriculture and ministries for research, and for Member States to develop common approaches in agricultural research.