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Preparation Agriculture/Fisheries Council of October 2011

European Commission - MEMO/11/708   19/10/2011

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MEMO/11/708

Brussels, 19 October 2011

Preparation Agriculture/Fisheries Council of October 2011

The Agriculture and Fisheries Council will meet in Luxemburg on 20 (starting at 10.00) and 21 October, under the presidency of Mr Marek Sawicki, Polish Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development. Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki, Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Dacian Cioloş, and Health and Consumer Policy Commissioner John Dali will represent the Commission.

The Council will start with a "tour de table" on the CAP reform package. Fisheries points will be dealt with on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning.

Press conferences are scheduled for Thursday evening and at the end of the meeting.

The points on the agenda are:

Agriculture

CAP reform package

Commissioner Dacian Cioloş will present the draft reform package to the Ministers, followed by a first exchange of views.

On 12 October, the European Commission presented a draft reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for the period after 2013. This draft aims to strengthen the competitiveness and sustainability of agriculture throughout the EU in order to secure for European citizens a healthy and high-quality food, preserve the environment and develop rural areas. The reformed CAP will make it possible to promote innovation, strengthen both the economic and ecological competitiveness of the agricultural sector, combat climate change, and sustain employment and growth. It will thus make a decisive contribution to the Europe 2020 strategy.

The ten key points of the reform (watch also the video clips with Commissioner Cioloş' statements on the key points (in French with English subtitles).

See also MEMO/11/685 and for further information and documents concerning the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, see:

http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/cap-post-2013/legal-proposals/index_en.htm

Food for the most deprived persons

The EU Aid for the Needy scheme, which provides food for as many as 18 million of the EU's most deprived citizens, faces a drastic cut in spending next year following a Court of Justice ruling from April 2011. In an effort to overcome the deadlock in the Council of Ministers and maintain the food distribution programme at current levels, the European Commission has on 3 October put forward a second amended proposal to provide an impetus for a political agreement and to allow the successful food distribution scheme to continue in 2012 and 2013, as well as in the future. The amendments proposed add a second legal base, namely social cohesion, reflecting the scheme's important social dimension. A further change is to remove the proposed provision for co-financing the scheme in future. Earlier proposals addressing this problem were tabled by the Commission in 2008 and 2010 andhave been backed by the European Parliament and a number of Member States, but the dossier remained blocked in the Council.

For more information, see IP/11/1148 and at

http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/most-deprived-persons/index_en.htm

The Council will have a policy debate on the new amended proposal from the Commission.

AOB

Implementation of the directive concerning the welfare of laying hens.

The legislation on the minimum standards for the protection of laying hens exists since 1999, when the EU Member States agreed on its provisions and on a timeframe to comply with the requirements.

According to the legislation, for animal welfare reasons, un-enriched cages will have to be phased out by 1 January 2012. They should be replaced by other systems more capable to satisfy the biological and behavioral needs of the animals. Un-enriched cages provide the hens with less living space than enriched ones and lack structures, such as a nest or a perch, that contribute to a more humane keeping of the hens.

Fisheries

2012 fishing opportunities for the Baltic Sea

Ministers will discuss the Commission's proposals of 15 September for fishing opportunities for the Baltic Sea for 2012 (for more details, see IP/11/1033). The proposals reflect the scientific advice received. Consequently, the Commission proposes to increase TACs (total allowable catches) for both stocks of Baltic cod as well as for two stocks of herring (Western and the Gulf of Bothnia). Decreases for the remaining stocks, in particular salmon, are deemed necessary, given the poor state of the fish stocks in question.

For cod, the Commission proposes to increase by 15 % (to 67 850 tonnes) the TAC for eastern Baltic cod and by 13% (to 21 300 tonnes) the TAC for western Baltic cod. These figures are in keeping with both the scientific advice and the provisions in the multi-annual plan.

For herring, the Commission proposes to increase the TAC for the Western herring stock by almost one third (to 20 900 tonnes) and to slightly increase the TAC for the Gulf of Bothnia herring (by 2% to 106 000 tonnes). As the central and Gulf of Riga herring stocks are not sufficiently recovered, the Commission proposes to reduce the TACs for these stocks by 33% and 21% respectively.

To recover salmon populations to sustainable levels, the Commission proposes to reduce the TAC for the main basin by almost 80% and by almost 30% for the Gulf of Finland stock. The proposed reduction is in line with the scientific advice received.

For sprat, the Commission proposes to reduce the TAC by 26%, to 213 110 tonnes.

With no scientific data on the size of the plaice stock, it is not known what catch would be sustainable. Consequently, the Commission decided to apply the internally-agreed precautionary principle and to propose a 25% reduction in the TAC until more data can be collected and the proper catch level can be determined.

The Commission considers it vital that the Council sets fishing limits in line with the scientific advice, to ensure that the EU fishing fleets exploit fish stocks at the sustainable level.

EU/Norway: annual consultations for 2012 – exchange of views

Ministers will exchange views on the approach the Commission should take during the annual fisheries consultations with Norway. The first round of annual consultations on the fisheries arrangement for 2012 will take place in Brussels from 15 to 18 November, with a second round in Bergen, Norway, from 28 November to 2 December.

Negotiations will focus on:

  • Detailed management arrangements for the seven jointly managed stocks in the North Sea (cod, haddock, plaice, whiting, herring, mackerel and saithe);

  • Associated management arrangements for the Skagerrak and Kattegat (cod, haddock, whiting, plaice, mackerel, shrimp, herring and sprat);

  • Agreement on the exchanges of fishing possibilities for 2012;

  • Technical, control and other measures in the relevant fisheries.

Bilateral fisheries cooperation between the EU and Norway in recent years has generally been very positive as regards the management of the main joint stocks in the North Sea, technical measures and a number of other relevant issues.


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