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European Commission

MEMO

Brussels, 19 April 2013

Agriculture and Fisheries Council, 22 April 2013

The Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting of April 2013 will take place in Luxemburg on 22 April 2013, under the presidency of Mr Simon Coveney, Irish Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. The Commission will be represented by Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Dacian Cioloş and Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki. Agriculture points will be dealt with on Monday morning, while Monday afternoon will be dedicated to Fisheries issues. A press conference will be held for each session at the end of the discussions. The public debates and the press conferences can be followed by video streaming: http://video.consilium.europa.eu.

Fisheries

Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy

The Council will hold an orientation debate on the proposal for a basic Regulation on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. Council will also be informed on the state of play of the Proposal for a Regulation on the Common Organisation of the Markets in Fishery and Aquaculture Products.

Negotiations between the European Parliament and the Council on the reform are underway and are dealing with core issues such as Maximum Sustainable Yield, scope and detail of the landing obligation, regionalisation and capacity management, as well as with other outstanding issues such as the rules determining the fixing and distribution of fishing opportunities, the composition of Advisory Councils, Member States' obligation to create fish stock recovery areas and empowerment for the Commission to adopt delegated acts.

Based on a discussion paper prepared by the Presidency, delegations will hold an orientation debate concerning the way to move forward on these issues.

The objective of the reformed fisheries policy is to end overfishing and make fishing sustainable - environmentally, economically and socially. The new policy aims to:

  1. bring fish stocks back to sustainable levels by setting fishing opportunities based on scientific advice,

  2. provide EU citizens with a stable, secure and healthy food supply for the long term,

  3. bring new prosperity to the fishing sector, end dependence on subsidies and create new opportunities for jobs and growth in coastal areas. IP/11/873.

Protection of seabirds

Commission Damanaki will present to ministers the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on an "Action Plan for reducing incidental catches of seabirds in fishing gears".

Scientific evidence has shown that high numbers of seabird species including albatrosses, petrels, shearwaters, auks, sea ducks and divers are being caught in fishing gear every year. Measures taken so far to protect seabirds from being entangled in fishing gear have been ineffective. The Action Plan sets up a management framework to minimise seabird bycatch to the lowest levels practically possible. It focuses on long line and static net fisheries where seabird bycatch are known to be highest, although other gears such as trawls and purse seines are also covered by the plan. It entails a wide range of elements under 30 recommended actions that are a combination of binding and non-binding measures. The rules will apply to EU fishing vessels inside and outside EU waters as well as non-EU vessels operating in EU waters. (IP/12/1222)

Agriculture

The Presidency will brief Member States on the state of play of negotiations on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy proposed by the Commission in October 2011. Following the adoption of their negotiating mandates by the Council and the European Parliament (respectively on 19 and 13 March), six trilogues have been held by the three institutions, out of the series of 30 planned for this final phase of negotiations on the CAP reform. The shared objective is that a political agreement is reached by the end of June 2013, with the formal adoption of the definitive legislative texts as a 1st reading agreement to follow in the autumn.

The four proposals on the table are:

  1. For direct payments, the Commission proposed in October 2011 to support farm income in a fairer, better targeted and simpler way, in particular with a more equitable distribution of funds between farmers, between regions and between Member States (respectively internal and external convergence), and a reduction of this direct income support above €150 000 per holding with an overall limit of €300 000 (taking employment costs into account). Another key element is that 30% of the payments should be reserved for a "greening" payment linked to certain sustainable agricultural practices. Other elements include a compulsory higher rate of payment for young farmers in the first 5 years after installation, and the establishment of a Small Farmers Scheme. At the time of the February Council the Presidency already circulated a paper setting out a number of amendments to the Commission proposal.

  2. The Commission proposal on the Single Common Markets Organisation puts forward more responsive and better suited tools to address crisis management, including a generalised safeguard clause enabling the Commission to take emergency measures to respond to general market disturbances. It also looks to improve rules on the recognition of Producer Organisations and inter-branch organisations. In more specific terms, the Commission is proposing to end the sugar quota regime in 2015.

  3. On Rural Development, the Commission's proposal aims at a more flexible system aimed at supporting measures to maintain our natural resources such as agri-environment schemes, encouraging investment and innovation, providing incentives for farmers to work together in producer organisations and to establish risk management schemes, and backing broader measures for economic development in rural areas.

  4. The proposals also involve a "horizontal regulation" covering the financing, management and monitoring of the CAP. These aim in particular at a simpler and more efficient CAP. To avoid unnecessary administrative burdens, the Commission proposed to simplify several administrative mechanisms, without losing efficiency, as well as aid to help small farmers through a flat rate per farm. The proposal also involves a series of rules on transparency on beneficiaries of CAP payments (see IP/12/1006).

Any other business

Fisheries

Following a request from Spain, the Commission will inform the Council on the state of play of negotiations for the Fisheries Partnership Agreement with Morocco and on the next steps of the Fisheries Partnership Agreement with Mauritania.

Agriculture

The Commission will present the proposals it put forward on 18 April to provide transitional arrangements in 2014 for certain Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) rules, notably the system of Direct Payments (see IP/13/339)


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