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MEMO/09/245

Brussels, 20 May 2009

Preparation Agriculture/Fisheries Council of May 2009

The Agriculture & Fisheries Council will meet in Brussels on Monday 25 May (starting at 14.30), under the Presidency of Mr Jakub Šebesta , Czech minister for Agriculture. Commissioners Mariann Fischer Boel and Joe Borg will represent the Commission at the meeting.

The points on the agenda are:

Fisheries

The main fisheries-related items on the Council agenda are an exchange of views on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy and the statement on the way forward in eliminating the practice of discarding of fish to the sea.

Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy

On 22 April, the Commission adopted a Green Paper launching the review of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). Interested parties from the sector and from civil society are invited to have their say on the future of European fisheries in a public internet-based consultation, which is open until 31 December 2009 and will cover every aspect of the current policy. The launch of the Green Paper marks the first step in a process which the Commission hopes to see culminate in a bold reform of the CFP ( IP/09/617 ). The aim of this review is to establish a system for managing fisheries in the EU which is better able to deliver on its aims and, in the long run, benefit both the marine environment, fishermen and citizens.

Commissioner Joe Borg presented the Green Paper to the Council on 25 April. Ministers are now expected to have a first thorough exchange of views, possibly showing the way forward. They may for example indicate what the priority issues are, or whether some aspects have been neglected but should be included into the reform. They might also express their wish to contribute to stimulating the debate in their own country.

Discards

Commissioner Borg will make a statement to the Council on the way forward for eliminating the practice of discarding in EU fisheries. This practice is no longer acceptable and the need to eliminate it is undisputed.


The Commission has been committed to solving this problem since 2007, when it published a Communication which sought to reduce discarding by encouraging fishermen to change the way they fish. But progress on the matter has been slow. The Commission now proposes to address discards energetically and will suggest a series of specific measures that should be implemented over the coming years to bring down discards as soon as possible. Under the current CFP rules, it will already be possible to ban the practice of highgrading (i.e. discarding commercial fish in view of a higher size/price catch), finance pilot projects, promote selective gears, license vessels according to likely catches, using instruments such as real-time closure and reduce further the overall fishing effort.

Additional far-reaching changes in order to completely abolish discards,  for example a radical change of the TAC and quota system or a full discard ban, must be decided in the context of a major overhaul of the CFP which was launched with a proposal to Member States from the Commission last month.

It is also clear that the problem is complex and its causes are varied. Solutions, therefore, also need to be diversified and require a concerted action by all: EU legislation certainly needs to address the issue, but MS must also revise their national rules and last but not least fishermen must adhere to a 'no discard' policy. Without them no progress can be made on this front.

Agriculture

Simplification of the CAP

On 18 March, the Commission adopted the Communication "A simplified CAP for Europe - a success for all". Thanks to considerable progress already made in simplifying the Common Agricultural Policy and other measures still to be carried out, the Commission is confident that it will meet its objective of reducing the administrative burden arising from the CAP by 25 percent by 2012. This view is supported by the recently adopted opinion on agriculture of the Stoiber group. A new report highlights a number of measures taken over the past three and a half years which reduce red tape for farmers, companies involved in the food business and administrations, and promise to reduce annual costs by hundreds of millions of euros, which will render European farming more competitive.

The Communication, press release and further information on CAP simplification is available at: http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/simplification/index_en.htm

The Council will have a policy debate on the Commission Communication with a view to adopt conclusions on this matter.

AOB

-        Compensation of damages to livestock caused by large carnivores (Finland)

-        Food prices (Polish demand)

-        Situation in pig meat market (French demand)

-        Situation in dairy market (French demand)

-        UN Commission on Sustainable Development (Presidency information)


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