Brussels, 8 May 2013
Agriculture and Fisheries Council, 13-14 May 2013
The Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting of May will take place in Brussels on 13th and 14th May 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. A press conference will be held for each session at the end of the discussions – at lunch on Monday (Agriculture) and at the end of Tuesday's discussions (Fisheries). The public debates and the press conferences can be followed by video streaming: http://video.consilium.europa.eu.
Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy
The Council will discuss the Proposal for a Regulation on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. Ministers are expected to adopt a revised mandate to facilitate the next stage of negotiations between the Irish Presidency and the European Parliament on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. Negotiations between the European Parliament and the Council on the reform are on-going and there have to date been five trilogues between the two institutions and the Commission. These trilogues are predominantly dealing with the four main substantive issues of the Maximum Sustainable Yield objective, the discard ban, regionalisation and fleet capacity management.
Other issues being discussed include scope and detail of the landing obligation, 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.
The objective of the reformed fisheries policy is to end overfishing and make fishing sustainable - environmentally, economically and socially. The new policy aims to:
bring fish stocks back to sustainable levels by setting fishing opportunities based on scientific advice,
provide EU citizens with a stable, secure and healthy food supply for the long term,
bring new prosperity to the fishing sector, end dependence on subsidies and create new opportunities for jobs and growth in coastal areas (see IP/11/873).
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.
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), eleven trilogues have been held by the three institutions, out of more than 30 which are planned for this final phase of negotiations on CAP reform. The shared objective is to reach a political agreement 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:
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.
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.
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.
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
The UK delegation will present its request on changes in stock distribution of mackerel in the North-East Atlantic and will seek information and clarification from the Commission on its intentions regarding the imposition of trade sanctions against Iceland and the Faroe Islands.
The Dutch delegation will present an information note on the Global Oceans Action Summit for Food Security and Blue Growth which is to be held from 9-13 September 2013 in The Hague, The Netherlands. The Summit will review action priorities to sustainably generate increased productivity for food security and for growth in the context of healthy oceans in a changing climate and will seek to mobilise support for the optimal positioning of oceans in the post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda.