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Brussels, 17 June 2005
The Agriculture & Fisheries Council will meet in Luxembourg on Monday 20 (starting at 10 a.m.), Tuesday 21 and possibly Wednesday 22 June under the Presidency of Mr Fernand Boden, Minister for Agriculture, Viticulture and Rural Development of Luxembourg.
The meeting will start on Monday morning with a discussion on the rural development proposal on the basis of a compromise text from the Presidency. On Monday afternoon, the COREPER points will be treated (avian influenza and the different "Fisheries" points). On Monday evening Ministers will have a working dinner to discuss the situation of WTO negotiations on agriculture.
The points on the agenda are:
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
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
At the May Agriculture Council, the Presidency and the Commission had bilateral meetings with all the Member States (MS) to explore possibilities for compromising on a number of core issues and to take note of the remaining key points some MS still wanted to make. On the basis of these talks, the Presidency prepared a compromise text that will be the basis for discussion at this meeting.
The core issue remains the distribution of the available budget for rural development by Member State and by axis.
The Council is expected to reach a political agreement on this
Fight against avian influenza
On 28 April 2005, the Commission adopted a proposal for a Directive
establishing updated EU-level measures on the control of avian influenza (see IP/05/501).
Controlling past avian influenza outbreaks has proven very costly and created
animal welfare issues related to the mass slaughter of animals. Added to this,
there is growing concern about the potential human health implications if a
strain of avian influenza would mutate into a virus that is transmissible
between humans. The updated measures proposed today are based on lessons learned
from recent epidemics and new scientific knowledge. An important focus of the
proposed legislation is to introduce more measures against low pathogenic
viruses to prevent mutation into the highly pathogenic forms that have been
responsible for the most dramatic epidemics and which are more likely to harm
The Presidency and Commission will inform the Council on the state of play of the discussions on this subject.
AOB - Agriculture
Fishery resources in the Mediterranean Sea
Proposal for a Council Regulation concerning management measures for the sustainable exploitation of fishery resources in the Mediterranean Sea and amending Regulations (EEC) N°2847/93 and (EC) N°973/2001
The Council will discuss the Commission proposal aiming to establish a set of management measures in the Mediterranean designed to address the causes of overexploitation of fisheries resources and ensure the sustainability of Mediterranean fisheries. Overfishing has resulted in a steady decrease of catches in the region which, for some species in certain areas, are now 60% lower than they were 20 years ago. The poor state of some of the main fish stocks in the area has been underlined by scientific bodies, including the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) and the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee (STECF) which advises the Commission.
The proposal builds up on existing measures and devises new ones to achieve sustainable fisheries. These measures have been tailored to the specific characteristics of fisheries in the region. These include a progressive increase in net mesh sizes, the strengthening of the current ban on certain trawling activities to protect young fish, the prohibition of certain fishing practices which are considered detrimental to marine ecosystems and habitats, conservation provisions for swordfish, better control of fishing activities, the sharing of management responsibility between the EU and the Member States and the introduction of fishing effort management.
He proposal was adopted by the Commission in October 2003 (cfr IP/03/1361); It followed an Action Plan for sustainable fisheries in the Mediterranean presented in the context of the 2002 CFP reform. It was extensively discussed with the stakeholders and with the European Parliament. Given the urgent need to protect a number of stocks the Commission hopes that a political agreement can be reached so that these measures can be implemented as soon as possible.
European Fisheries Fund
The Council will discuss the Commission proposal for a Council Regulation on the establishment of a European Fisheries Fund (EFF) for the period 2007-2013, to succeed the current FIFG (Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance) (cfr. IP/04/922 and MEMO/04/181). The new fund will help implement measures aimed at securing sustainable fisheries and diversifying economic activities in coastal fishing areas. According to the Commission proposal, the EFF should concentrate on five priority axes:
The amount available to Member States for their national programmes under the new Fund, will be decided in the context of the financial perspectives for the period 2007-2013.
AOB - Fisheries
The Commission will inform the Council of the management of blue whiting fisheries in preparation for a meeting with the coastal States concerned by this fishery (Norway, Iceland, and the Faeroe Islands - the Russian Federation participates in negotiations on blue whiting).
The Belgian delegation will draw the attention of the Council to the impact of increasing fuel prices on the fisheries industry.