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Brussels, 22 December 2004
The Agriculture/Fisheries Council yesterday morning discussed the “Agriculture and Food Safety” points of the agenda. The discussions in the afternoon and during the night centred on the “Fisheries” points of the agenda. Agreement was reached on TACs and quotas for 2005 this morning. The results of the fisheries part of the agenda are described in a separate MEMO.
Implementation of CAP reform: Cross compliance
The Council adopted without debate a declaration on the cross-compliance rules for the CAP Reform. The declaration underlines the importance of linking CAP payments to the fulfilment of land management, environmental and animal welfare standards. The Commission will undertake a review of the arrangements after the first year of application and, where appropriate, propose modifications. It will, if needed, provide recommendations and guidelines for the better application of cross-compliance. It committed itself to reporting on the system by the end of 2007.
Simplification of agriculture legislation
The Council held a debate on the simplification of agricultural legislation. Commissioner Fischer Boel underlined the importance she attaches to simplification. She stressed that this should not in any way undermine the important checks and controls which are part of the CAP rules, nor the sound management of EU finances. Nor should it be used as an opportunity to reopen already-completed policy debates. She promised to bring forward, by October or November 2005, a reflection paper on what further work could be done, which could be used as a basis for future work on better regulation.
FLEGT: Imports of timber
The Council had a policy debate on a Commission draft Regulation establishing the FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade) voluntary licensing for timber imports. It aims to control illegal logging in producer countries and improve governance of the timber trade. For details, see IP/04/980 and MEMO/04/194.
Louis Michel, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid announced the release of € 20 million to support the EU Action Plan for FLEGT. The Commission will support international and non-governmental organisations and the private sector, through a range of innovative pilot activities, to promote governance reform in countries affected by illegal logging and to facilitate trade in legally harvested timber (see also IP/04/1521)
EU-Australia negotiations on wine
Council discussed a request from Hungary to look at the potential effect of the draft EU-Australia wine agreement for producers of Tokaj wine. Commissioner Fischer Boel said the draft agreement guaranteed the protection of the Hungarian Geographical Indication Tokaj by Australia. She said discussions were continuing to clarify a number of points in the agreement.
Over lunch, Council held a discussion of recent developments in the Doha Development Agenda negotiations. Commissioner Fischer Boel reported back on her recent successful visit to the WTO in Geneva.
Conferences organised by the Presidency
The Dutch Presidency outlined the results of the conferences on “Material and immaterial costs of eradication of animal diseases” held in Brussels last week and “European response to public health risks from emerging zoonotic diseases” held in The Hague on 16 and 17 September 2004.
M. Kyprianou said: “These two Conferences provide the Commission and stakeholders with knowledge, ideas and opinions that will inform and help shape future Community actions in relation to the control of animal diseases and their possible consequences on food safety and public health. The Commission will take full account of the conference recommendations when considering future actions in this area.”
The Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection also announced the new EU Animal Health Strategy to improve the prevention and control of animal disease in the EU. The Commission plans to propose a Communication in 2007 setting out actions for 2007-13. (for details, see MEX/04/1221).
Furthermore, the Commissioner announced another major initiative, the launching of a Technology Platform on Global Animal Health. This initiative, driven by the industry, aims to facilitate and accelerate the development and distribution of the most effective tools to control major animal diseases – such as new vaccines and diagnostic tests with a view to improving animal health and welfare, food safety, human health, market access – particularly by developing countries – and contributing to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. (for details, see IP/04/1499).