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European Commission

MEMO

Brussels, 13 July 2012

Preparation of Agriculture and Fisheries Council, 16 July 2012

The Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting of July 2012 will take place in Brussels on 16 July 2012, under the Presidency of Cypriot Minister for Agriculture, Natural Resources & Environment Mr. Sofoclis Aletraris. The Commission will be represented by Agriculture & Rural Development Commissioner Dacian Cioloş, Health & Consumer Policy Commissioner John Dalli and Maritime Affairs & Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki. The meeting will start at 10:00 with a presentation by the Presidency of its work programme. There will then be 2 "public" debates on aspects relating to CAP reform, and a formal discussion of animal welfare issue(s) and the Any Other Business points until roughly 16:30, when the Council will turn to fisheries issues. A press conference will be held at the end of the meeting – foreseen for roughly 18:30.

Fisheries

Commissioner Damanaki will present to ministers the Commission's Communication on Fishing Opportunities for 2013 (IP/12/584) and an exchange of views will follow. In this annual consultation document, the Commission asks for the views of Member States and stakeholders on the setting of Total Allowable Catches (TACs), quotas and fishing effort (days-at-sea) for the following year.

The Commission's approach for 2013 is that for stocks covered by the long-term management plans, TACs and effort levels should be fixed according to the plans in force. For other fish stocks, not covered by the plans, the TACs should be based on scientific advice, with a goal to phase out overfishing by 2015 - or earlier, wherever possible. Where no advice exists, the precautionary principle should be applied.

The Commission notes that the state of fish stocks in has improved over the last years. In the northeast Atlantic and nearby seas, overfished stocks fell from 32 out of 34 stocks in 2005 to 18 out of 38 stocks in 2012, i.e. from 94% to 47%. In the Mediterranean, sufficient data exists for 63% of stocks. Out of these, 80% are overfished.

Equally, the science base for assessing fish stocks is improving. Whereas in 2009 57 stocks subject to TACs in the northeast Atlantic were without scientific advice, a drastic improvement in 2012 to possibly as little as 10 to 12 stocks is expected. The Commission thereby reaffirms that it is committed to propose fishing levels based on scientific analysis and with the deadline of 2015 for phasing out overfishing, as spelled out in the proposal for reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.

Any other business

Ireland has requested an AOB discussion on mackerel.

Agriculture and Rural Development

Ministers will hold orientation debates on particular aspects of two of the main Commission's proposals for the post-2013 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) – relating to rural development, and the rules on market instruments under the so-called Single Common Market Organisation (CMO). The debates will be structured around questions drawn up by the Presidency as follows:

  • Rural Development risk management measures: the Commission has proposed to allow support for risk management measures covering crop, animal and plant insurance and to provide for an income stabilization tool, so as to provide an effective management of increasing income and economic risks faced by farmers across Europe. The Presidency questions centre around whether the proposed measures strike the right balance in terms of coverage, objectives and needs for risk management, and whether the type and level of support envisaged in the Commission proposal is appropriate, in particular with respect to the income stabilization tool proposed.

  • Single Common Market Organization: the Commission has proposed a series of exceptional support measures to allow a swift and effective response in case of market disturbances, outbreaks of animal disease, loss of consumer confidence due to public, animal or plant health risks or to resolve specific problems. The Presidency has asked Member States to reflect on:- (1) whether the suggested measures strike the right balance in terms of objectives and needs to respond effectively to exceptional situations and crises on agricultural markets; and (2) whether it would be appropriate to extend the scope of the provision on measures against market disturbances to all products, as suggested by some Member States.

Both the debates will be public, i.e. webstreamed "live" on the internet at http://video.consilium.europa.eu/.

Any other business

  • Commissioner Dacian Cioloş will debrief Member states on his recent visit to China and present the EU – China Cooperation Plan in Agriculture and Rural Development which he signed on 11 June on behalf of the EU.

  • The Commission will present a Report on the situation of the dairy market, which analyses milk production, farm gate milk prices in the EU, the price of dairy products and farm margins in the EU in the recent period.

  • Member states will discuss a note submitted by Poland and supported by Lithuania on the situation of the dairy market.

  • Denmark will present a note on the recent conference of the directors of EU paying agencies, held in Horsens, Denmark from 19 to 21 June 2012 on the initiative of the Danish payment agency. The conference discussed the practical implementation of the Commission's CAP reform proposal.

  • Member States will be briefed by Spain on the consequences of recent fires on agricultural activity in Valencia.

Health and Consumer Policy

Animal Welfare

Any other business

The Netherlands and Austria have requested for an AOB discussion on animal welfare during transport.


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