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MEMO/05/211

Brussels, 17 June 2005

Preparation Agriculture/Fisheries Council of 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:

Agriculture

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 (see IP/04/920, MEMO/04/180 and COM(2004) 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 (CAP).
The three major objectives (or “axes”) for the future rural development policy are:

  • Improving competitiveness of farming and forestry
  • Environment and land management
  • Improving quality of life and diversification.

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 Regulation.
More information on rural development can be found at:

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

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 human health.
The full text of the proposal as well as further information on avian influenza is available on the internet at:

http://ec.europa.eu/food/animal/diseases/controlmeasures/avian/legisl_en.htm

The Presidency and Commission will inform the Council on the state of play of the discussions on this subject.

AOB - Agriculture

  • Results of the 73rd general assembly of the International Office of Epizootics
  • Results of the meetings of the Standing Committee on Agricultural Research
  • Situation of the cereals market
  • Forests (FLEGT): State of play
  • Memorandum on fair trade

Fisheries

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:

  • Measures to achieve a better balance between the fishing capacity and effort and the resources available while ensuring the sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources. Aid would be available to help implement fishing effort adjustment plans proposed by Member States, including measures such as vessel decommissioning, compensating for temporary or permanent cessation of activities and socio-economic schemes. Investments on board fishing vessels and incentives for the use of more environmentally-friendly fishing gear and practices would also be possible. The small-scale fleet would benefit form specific support measures such as a higher rate of public aid.
  • Measures to encourage the sustainable development of aquaculture, processing and marketing of fishery and aquaculture products. A particular emphasis would be put on aquaculture methods which protect and preserve the environment.
  • Support to initiatives, by stakeholders, of collective benefit and in line with the objectives of the CFP. Such projects of collective interest could be developed both in fishing and in aquaculture.
  • Actions aiming to ensure the sustainable development of fishing areas, to be implemented locally. Would be eligible under this axis, for example, initiatives to diversify and strengthen the economic base in coastal fishing areas, as well as projects promoting the role of women in these areas.
  • Technical assistance to be implemented at the initiative of the Commission or the Member States.

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

  • Management of blue whiting 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 fuel crisis and the future of fisheries

The Belgian delegation will draw the attention of the Council to the impact of increasing fuel prices on the fisheries industry.


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