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Brussels, 14 February 2014
Agriculture and Fisheries Council, 17th February 2014
The Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting of February 2014 will take place in Brussels on 17th February 2014. The Commission will be represented by Commissioner for Health Commissioner Tonio Borg and Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Cioloş. There are no Fisheries points at the agenda of the Council. A press conference will be held at the end of the meeting, around 19.30. The public debates and the press conference can be followed by video streaming: http://video.consilium.europa.eu.
In a public debate, the Commission will present its recent proposal for a single school food scheme (see IP/14/94 and MEMO/14/69), followed by initial Member States reactions. The Commission proposes to combine and reinforce two currently separate school schemes - the School Fruit Scheme and the School Milk Scheme -under a joint framework. In a context of declining consumption among children for fruits and milk, the aim is to address poor nutrition more effectively, to reinforce the educational elements of the programmes and to contribute to fight against obesity. The Commission proposal puts greater focus on educational measures to improve children's awareness of healthy eating habits, the range of farm produce available, as well as sustainability, environmental and food waste issues. The Commission proposes to bring both schemes under a joint legal and financial framework, improving and streamlining the administrative requirements to reduce the management and organisational burden for national authorities, schools and suppliers and make the scheme more efficient.
The European Commission will also present its recent proposal on promotion of agricultural products (see IP/13/1139 and MEMO/13/1032), followed by Member States' responses in a public session. The proposed reform of the information and promotion policy for European agricultural and food products aims to help the sector's professionals break into international markets and make consumers more aware of the efforts made by European farmers to provide quality products, based on a genuine strategy established at European level. The Commission proposes to significantly increase the aid allocated to information and promotion initiatives, to strengthen the competitiveness of European agriculture, from EUR 61 million in the 2013 budget to EUR 200 million in 2020. Another important feature of the proposal is the setting up of a European executive agency supporting the opening up of new markets.
After presenting its Presidency work programme for the first six months of 2014, the Greek Presidency will chair a policy debate on the dairy sector, following up on the Conference on "The EU dairy sector: developing beyond 2015" held in Brussels on 24 September 2013. Discussions will articulate around three Presidency questions on (1) the challenges that the milk sector is likely to face in the short/medium and long term, (2) whether the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) provisions are sufficient to prevent severe market crises or the risk of severe market crises in the future and whether they adequately protect all players and segments in the milk market and (3) the new tools that may need to be introduced if that is considered not to be the case.
Any other business
Russian pigmeat import restrictions
The Lithuanian and Polish delegations have raised the issue of the Russian ban on pigmeat imports from the whole of the EU following 2 cases of Africa Swine Fever in Lithuania. Commissioner Borg will update Ministers on the ongoing contacts with the Russian authorities and Commissioner Cioloș will address issues relating to the impact on the EU market. Commissioner Borg has previously outlined how measures to limit the spread of the disease were taken by Lithuania immediately, in accordance with EU and international standards, and has underlined that a Russian de facto ban on pigs and pigmeat from the whole of the EU is unjustified and disproportionate (see MEMO/14/93)
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