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Brussels, 16 October 2009
Preparation Agriculture/Fisheries Council of October 2009
The Agriculture & Fisheries Council will meet in Luxembourg on Monday 19 (starting at 10.00) and Tuesday 20 October, under the Presidency of Mr Eskil Erlandsson, Swedish minister for Agriculture. Commissioners Mariann Fischer Boel and Joe Borg will represent the Commission at the meeting.
On Monday Council will first deal with Agriculture and Food Safety issues. In the evening and on Tuesday morning, Fisheries items will be discussed.
Over lunch on Monday, ministers will discuss "Policy Coherence for Development, and in particular relating to food security and FAO reform"
The points on the agenda are:
On 9 October, the Commission proposed two changes to the rules governing the dairy sector as part of its continuing efforts to stabilise the milk market. Firstly, it is proposed that the dairy sector should in future be covered by a disturbance clause which already exists for other farm sectors, to allow a quicker response to future market disturbances. Secondly, for the 2009/2010 and 2010/2011 quota years, changes to the operation of quota buying-up schemes by Member States will ensure that bought up quota which is kept in the national reserve should no longer count as part of the national quota when it comes to deciding whether superlevy is due for exceeding the quota. If superlevy is then collected, the part corresponding to the bought-up quota can be used by Member States for restructuring of the sector.
These proposals will be presented by Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel and discussed by EU ministers.
The Commissioner will also give and overview of the situation of the dairy market. Latest figures clearly show further improvement of the prices of dairy products.
The Council will also formally adopt as an A-point (without discussion) the extension of the intervention period for butter and skimmed milk powder until the end of February 2011, as already proposed in July. This will extend the intervention period until the normal start of the next period on 1 st March 2010.
Marketing standards for poultry meat
In May 2008, the Commission proposed to modify the marketing standards for poultry meat. The two main elements of the proposal are:
The Council will adopt the modification of the marketing standards.
Genetically Modified organisms: Maize
The Council will examine three proposals for authorisation of the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from 3 types of genetically modified maize (MON 88017, MON 89034 and 59122xNK603)
The Council can adopt or reject the proposals by qualified majority. In the absence of a qualified majority in favour or against the proposal, it will go back to the Commission.
The main fisheries-related items on the Council agenda are the proposal for a Council Regulation establishing a Community control system to ensuring compliance with the rules of the CFP, the annual EU-Norway consultations for 2010 and the proposal for a Council Regulation fixing fishing opportunities in the Baltic Sea for 2010.
Control of the Common Fisheries Policy – political agreement
The Council will seek political agreement on the Commission's proposal to create a completely modernised system for inspection, monitoring, control, surveillance and enforcement of the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy throughout the market chain, from net to plate, based on a global and integrated approach to control ( ).
Harmonised inspection procedures and higher standards would ensure uniform implementation of control policy at national level, while taking account of the diversity and specific characteristics of different fleets. There will be measures to promote a culture of compliance throughout the sector, including simplification of the regulatory framework, and the introduction of harmonised deterrent sanctions. The capacity of the Commission to intervene to ensure that the rules of the CFP are being effectively implemented and enforced by the Member States will also be strengthened. In general, all aspects of the control and monitoring of fisheries activities would be simplified and made more efficient by the new rules. The Commission's proposal has received broad support from the European Parliament, the Committee of the Regions and the Economic and Social Committee, which have all adopted reports on this issue over the last few months.
So far the debate at technical level has ranged across a number of issues and significant progress has been made on areas including exemptions for small-scale fisheries and specific fisheries, new technologies, traceability, the inspection of vessels outside waters of the inspecting Member State and the powers of both the Commission and the Community Fisheries Control Agency.
The Council will seek to secure an agreement on the remaining hot topics, which are the margin of tolerance in catch reporting; recreational fisheries, harmonisation of sanctions and entry into force.
EU-Norway consultations for 2010 – exchange of views
The bilateral Fisheries Agreement between the EU and Norway covering joint stocks in the North Sea has been in place since 1980. Some of these stocks – cod, haddock, herring, plaice, saithe and whiting – are jointly managed, while others – such as anglerfish, horse mackerel, Norway pout and sandeel – are not. Annual Total Allowable Catches (TACs) are set jointly by the EU and Norway for the jointly managed stocks. There needs to be an overall balance in the reciprocal exchange of quotas across the Agreement.
Council will discuss the approach the Commission should take during the annual negotiations with Norway.
Fishing opportunities in the Baltic Sea for 2010 – political agreement
The Council will seek political agreement on the Commission proposal on fishing possibilities for fish stocks in the Baltic Sea for 2010, tabled on 3 September 2009 ( ). Scientific advice has shown that cod stocks are recovering, but that the western herring stock is a continuing cause for serious concern. Also, there are indications that discarding in the Baltic may be on the rise. Therefore, in line with its position on discards, the Commission is proposing a high-grading ban for next year.
Based on scientific advice, and in line with the Communication on fishing opportunities for 2010 and the multi-annual plan for cod in the Baltic Sea, the Commission is proposing increases of 15% and 9% in the fishing opportunities for the eastern and western stocks of Baltic cod respectively. The eastern cod stock is still benefiting from strong recruitment, coupled with improved discipline in the application of the multi-annual plan. For its part, the western stock is slowly starting to improve as well. The proposed TAC increases are in line with the provisions of the multi-annual plan, which aims to adapt fishing mortality to a level that is sustainable in the long term.
The western herring stock has declined further, following a 2009 TAC which was set well above scientific advice. The incoming year class is only a quarter of the long-term average. This stock intermingles with the North Sea herring stock, which is also suffering from poor recruitment. It is therefore important to adopt a common approach for the management of these two stocks.
Having taken the economic situation of the sector into consideration, the Commission is thus proposing a reduction of 21 % in the TAC for western herring. Other pelagic stocks have seen falling recruitment as well, requiring a reduction in the TAC. The Commission is therefore proposing 15% reductions in fishing possibilities for the central herring stock and for sprat.
The fall in survival rates for salmon juveniles at sea, plus the poor status of some of the river stocks subject to mixed stock fishing within the main basin, have triggered a proposed 15% reduction in the TAC in the main basin. No reduction has been proposed for the Gulf of Finland, since the causes of the problem here need to be addressed primarily via national management measures in inland waters. The Commission will raise the issue with the Member States concerned in the context of the future Baltic salmon management plan, currently under preparation.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS
Renewal of the fishing fleet under the EFF Regulation (request from the Lithuanian and Cypriot delegation)
Lithuania and Cyprus argue that the new Member States have been penalised, since FIFG construction aid was phased out just before 2004 enlargement. The EFF does not offer sufficient assistance to their aging fleets.
Preparations for the next ICCAT annual meeting (Commission request)
The Commission has asked for a discussion on the EU's position for the forthcoming annual meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), which will take place in Recife, Brazil, from 6 to 15 November.