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Brussels, 13 December 2013
Agriculture and Fisheries Council, 16-17th December 2013
The Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting of December 2013 will take place in Brussels on 16-17th December 2013. The Commission will be represented by Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, Health Commissioner Tonio Borg, and Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Cioloş. A press conference on agriculture points will be held at the end of the discussions on Monday around midday and on fisheries points at the end of the Council meeting. The public debates and the press conferences can be followed by video streaming: http://video.consilium.europa.eu.
The Council is expected to clear the formal adoption (as an "A point") of the four regulations on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) on which a political agreement between the Commission, the Council and the European Parliament was reached in June and September 2013 (see IP/13/613, IP/13/864 and MEMO/13/937). Transitional rules for the CAP 2014 will also be adopted as an "A" point. Meanwhile the Commission is continuing its work in preparing the Delegated Acts, which provide the more detailed rules for implementing the reform at Member State or regional level. In global terms, the reform is aimed at providing a CAP which is greener, fairer and more targeted, taking better account of society's expectations and rewarding farmers for the public goods they provide.
Commissioner Cioloş will present the recent Commission proposal for a reform of the information and promotion policy for European agricultural and food products published on 21 November (IP/13/1139). The proposals foresee the establishment of a European promotion strategy for more targeted measures; an increase of programmes aimed at third countries and multi-country programmes (programmes represented by organisations from several Member States) with a 60% EU co-financing rate for these categories (instead of the current 50%) and a widened scope of measures; and a significant increase in the available budget (from EUR 61 million in 2014 budget to EUR 200 million in 2020).
Fishing Opportunities for 2014
Commissioner Damanaki will present the Commission's proposals for fixing fishing opportunities for 2014 for the Atlantic, the North Sea and the Black Sea. Ministers will discuss these proposals with a view to reaching political agreement so that the limits can enter into force on 1 January 2014.
Atlantic, North Sea & International waters
Ministers will seek to reach political agreement on the fishing opportunities for 2014 for certain fish stocks in the Atlantic and North Sea, as well as in international waters (IP/13/1005). The Commission proposal sets levels of total allowable catch (TAC) and fishing effort (where applicable) both for stocks managed exclusively by the EU, and for stocks managed with third countries such as Norway or through Regional Fisheries Management Organisations across the world's oceans. Where negotiations are still ongoing, as with Norway, provisional TACs have been proposed.
For the stocks not shared with third countries, the Commission proposes to increase or maintain the TACs for 36 stocks, and reduce them for 36 stocks, in line with the scientific advice. For stocks where data is not good enough to properly estimate their size, the Commission proposal reflects the advice from ICES to adapt the TAC up or down by a maximum of 20% in accordance with the trends observed in the stocks.
The Commission's ultimate goal, and one of the pillars of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), is to have all stocks fished at sustainable levels, the so-called Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY). Whenever possible, the scientists advise how to bring the stocks to MSY levels. This year, the so-called "MSY advice" could be issued for 22 EU stocks.
In negotiations with its international partners, the Commission has done its utmost to reach agreements that are sustainable and respect scientific advice. International negotiations for many of the stocks concerned are still ongoing. The proposal therefore includes provisional figures for about half of the TACs at this stage. It will be completed once negotiations with third parties and organisations have taken place.
Political agreement will be sought on a Commission proposal for a Council Regulation fixing the fishing opportunities for certain fish stocks and groups of fish stocks in the Black Sea for 2014. The Commission proposes to cut the EU quota for turbot by 15%, to 74 tonnes and to keep the EU quota for sprat unchanged at 11,475 tonnes. Consistent with the EU's principles of following the best available scientific advice, the proposal takes into consideration the advice by the Commission's Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF).
Any other business
Report on the conference 'The EU dairy sector: developing beyond 2015'
The Commission will present the report recently published on the conference 'The EU dairy sector: developing beyond 2015' held in September which discussed its future challenges, notably after the end of the quota regime in 2015, considering future trends and whether additional instruments were needed and feasible.
Public consultation on organic farming
The Commission will present the results of public consultation on future of organic farming held highlight in the first half of 2013, which attracted major interest and highlighted a demand for stricter rules at EU level.
At Germany's request, a discussion will be held on the potential impact on the farming sector of the revision of the National Emission Ceilings for certain pollutants Directive (NEC Directive) announced by the Commission.
Report on a potential labelling scheme for "local food"
The Commission will present a recently published report exploring possibilities of adopting a local farming and direct sales labelling scheme in the future, as requested by the current legislation on quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs.
Problems for the EU rice sector
At Italy's request, a discussion will be held on difficulties reported in the rice sector, in the context of increased imports of milled rice from third countries in the EU.
Coastal States negotiations on mackerel
A Commission note on the state of play of the Coastal States consultations on mackerel will be discussed by Ministers. The Commission considers that all avenues should be exhausted in this critical phase of the mackerel negotiations in order to reach agreement. Coastal State discussions will resume in early 2014.
“Smarter rules for safer food” package: Progress report from the Presidency
Under this point the Presidency will present a progress report on the animal and plant health Package. Commissioner Borg is expected to welcome the good progress achieved under the Lithuanian Presidency, as well as encourage the delegations to ensure that an agreement with the Parliament on the financial proposal can be concluded in the very near future.
Market access to Russian Federation concerning EU exports of plants and products: information from the Presidency
Under this point, the Presidency will provide information on the ongoing market restriction of certain EU plant products to the Russian Federation. Commission will stress its continued efforts to maintain an enhanced dialogue with the Russian authorities in order to explore a technical solution to this situation.
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