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Conseil/00/13

Brussels, 24 January 20005559/00 (Presse 13)

2240th Council meeting AGRICULTURE Brussels, 24 January 2000

President : M. Luís CAPOULAS SANTOS

Minister for Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries of the Portuguese Republic

CONTENTS

PARTICIPANTS 

ITEM DEBATED

IVBEEF LABELLING PAGEREF _Toc474040087 \h IVINTERGOVERNMENTAL FORUM ON FORESTS PAGEREF _Toc474040088 \h VWHITE PAPER ON FOOD SAFETY PAGEREF _Toc474040089 \h VANIMAL HEALTH AFFECTING INTRA-COMMUNITY TRADE PAGEREF _Toc474040090 \h VIITEMS APPROVED WITHOUT DEBATEAGRICULTURE PAGEREF _Toc474040091 \h VI--Agricultural statistics PAGEREF _Toc474040092 \h VI--Hops PAGEREF _Toc474040093 \h VIIFISHERIES PAGEREF _Toc474040094 \h VII--Agreement with São Tomé e Principe PAGEREF _Toc474040095 \h VIIENERGY PAGEREF _Toc474040096 \h VII--SAVE II and ALTENER II * PAGEREF _Toc474040097 \h VIIRESEARCH PAGEREF _Toc474040098 \h VIII--Supplementary research programme for Petten PAGEREF _Toc474040099 \h VIIIINTERNAL MARKET PAGEREF _Toc474040100 \h VIII--Madrid Agreement concerning the International Registration of Marks PAGEREF _Toc474040101 \h VIII--Approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to noise emissions PAGEREF _Toc474040102 \h VIIILABOUR AND SOCIAL AFFAIRS PAGEREF _Toc474040103 \h VIII--Establishment of the Employment Committee * PAGEREF _Toc474040104 \h VIIICULTURAL AND AUDIOVISUAL AFFAIRES PAGEREF _Toc474040105 \h VIII--CULTURE 2000 programme * PAGEREF _Toc474040106 \h VIIIENVIRONMENT PAGEREF _Toc474040107 \h IX--Barcelona Convention PAGEREF _Toc474040108 \h IX

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For further information call 285 78 33, 285 81 11.

PARTICIPANTS

The Governments of the Member States and the European Commission were represented as follows:

Belgium:

Mr Jaak GABRIËLSMinister for Agriculture and Small and Medium-Sized Businesses
Denmark:
Mr Henrik DAM KRISTENSENMinister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries
Mr Poul OTTOSENState Secretary, Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries
Germany:
Mr Karl-Heinz FUNKEFederal Minister for Food, Agriculture and Forestry
Greece:
Mr Yiorgos ANOMERITISMinister for Agriculture
Spain:
Mr Jesus POSADA MORENOMinister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
France:
Mr Jean GLAVANYMinister for Agriculture and Fisheries
Ireland:
Mr Joe WALSHMinister for Agriculture and Food
Italy:
Mr Paolo DE CASTROMinister for Agriculture Policy
Luxembourg:
Mr Fernand BODENMinister for Agriculture, Viticulture and Rural Development
Netherlands:
Mr Laurens-Jan BRINKHORSTMinister for Agriculture, Nature Management and Fisheries
Austria:
Mr Andrä RUPPRECHTERHead of Unit, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
Portugal:
Mr Luís CAPOULAS SANTOSMinister for Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries
Mr Luís VIEIRAState Secretary for Agricultural Markets and Food Standards
Finland:
Mr Kalevi HEMILÄMinister for Agriculture
Sweden:
Ms Margareta WINBERGMinister for Agriculture
Mr Per-Göran ÖJEHEIMState Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture
United Kingdom:
Mr Nick BROWNMinister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
Ms Joyce QUINMinister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
Ms Brid RODGERS

Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development of the Northern Ireland Assembly

Commission:
Mr Franz FISCHLERMember
Mr David BYRNEMember
_Toc473382008PRESENTATION OF THE PORTUGUESE PRESIDENCY'S PROGRAMME

Mr Luís CAPOULAS SANTOS, President of the Agriculture Council, drew attention to the main priorities of the Portuguese presidency for the next six months.

These concern first of all the agricultural aspects of food safety, on the basis of the white paper submitted by the Commission. In particular, this will involve increasing consumer confidence in Community foodstuffs, through the adoption of specific quality and safety standards.

The Portuguese presidency also intends to pursue talks on the labelling of beef products, in cooperation with the European Parliament, with a view to having a compulsory labelling system in place by 1 September 2000.

During the Portuguese presidency, the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy will continue, through improvement of the common market organisations. The Presidency intends to negotiate reforms in the banana, flax and hemp and cotton common market organisations (CMOs) as well as the future proposals for reform of the rice, fruit and vegetables and sugar CMOs and the 2000/01 price package.

The Presidency intends to monitor the actions envisaged by the forestry strategy for the European Union, which is intended to develop the sector and promote sustainable management of forests and provide greater coordination of the positions of the European Union and its Member States in the international dialogue on forests.

BEEF LABELLING

The Council confirmed the importance it attaches to the rapid introduction of a compulsory labelling system for beef and expressed its desire to do its utmost to ensure that, with the European Parliament's cooperation, a decision on the matter could be taken by 1 September 2000.

With this in mind it held a policy debate on two questions submitted to it by the Presidency, which cover two key aspects of the future system: the essential compulsory references used to ensure the traceability of the meat and the essential conditions for defining the origin of the meat and the ways in which to indicate the origin.

As regards the essential references for ensuring the traceability of meat, opinions converge in favour of compulsory indication of the identification number of the animal (or animals) and the approval number of the slaughterhouse.

As regards information on origin (birth, fattening, slaughter and deboning), a majority considers that it is not essential to indicate the location of the deboning hall.

A large number of Member States also asked for consumer information to be as objective as possible and were therefore in favour of a reference to the Member State.

The Council asked the Special Committee on Agriculture to continue actively examining the Commission's proposal, taking into account the guidelines which emerged from the discussion, and to report back as soon as possible.

Following the "mad cow" crisis, on 21 April 1997 the Council adopted Regulation No 820/97 establishing a system for the identification and registration of bovine animals and regarding the labelling of beef and beef products. This labelling system was, for the most part, voluntary.

Article 19 of the Regulation stipulated expressly that a compulsory beef-labelling system would be introduced in all Member States from 1 January 2000. Before that date, the Council should have adopted the general rules for such a labelling system.

Since the physical conditions required to ensure that a compulsory labelling system was introduced on 1 January 2000 had not yet been met in certain Member States, the Commission submitted two proposals to the Council in October 1999.

    the first aimed to extend by one year the use of the voluntary system so as to allow sufficient time for defining the compulsory system. In December 1999 the Council, taking account of the European Parliament's position, decided that this extension would apply until 1 September 2000;

    the objective of the second proposal, relating to the content, is to set up a transparent obligatory labelling system in two stages: the purpose of the first phase, which would enter into force one month after the adoption of the Regulation, is to notify the consumer of the information available concerning the place of slaughter and deboning; from 1 January 2003 (second phase), the label for beef and veal should also include information on the animal's place of birth and where it was raised.

INTERGOVERNMENTAL FORUM ON FORESTS

The Presidency drew the Council's attention to the importance of the negotiations which were to take place in New York from 31 January to 11 February 2000 during the 4th session of the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests. It encouraged all the Member States and the Commission to take an active part in the proceedings, on the basis of the European Union common positions which have already been drawn up and will subsequently be refined throughout the session by means of coordination on the spot, with a view to negotiating an efficient instrument or agreement to promote the management, conservation and development of all types of forests.

WHITE PAPER ON FOOD SAFETY

The Council heard a presentation by Commissioner BYRNE of the White Paper on food safety and held an initial discussion which allowed the various Member States to make preliminary comments.

Following the discussion, the President noted that the delegations largely supported, inter alia, the Commission's integrated approach and the suggestion to set up a European Food Authority.

The Council took note of the ways considered by the Presidency to ensure that the White Paper is examined within the various relevant Council formations (Agriculture, Internal Market, Health and Consumer Protection). The Permanent Representatives Committee will have responsibility for conducting preparatory discussions whilst ensuring the necessary consistency. On the basis of these discussions the Presidency will draw up a report to be submitted to the Feira European Council, as provided for in the Helsinki European Council conclusions.

The White Paper on food safety adopted by the Commission on 12 January 2000 starts from the basic principle that food safety policy must be based on an integrated global approach.

The White Paper provides for:

     the setting up of a European Food Authority based on the principles of the highest levels of independence, scientific excellence and transparency;

     an Action Plan providing for around 80 legislative acts aiming to improve and make consistent Community law covering all aspects of food production "from farm to table";

     revision and improvement of the various arrangements for monitoring the implementation of Community law;

     provisions on consumer information (via product labelling) and the promotion of dialogue with consumers;

     the taking into account of the international dimension of the problem of food safety (particularly in the context of future WTO negotiations).

The Commission would like to receive as soon as possible the reactions from all parties concerned (particularly the Council and European Parliament) to this White Paper, so that it can set out more effectively its programme of legislative measures and settle down to the task of preparing and finalising formal proposals.

ANIMAL HEALTH AFFECTING INTRA-COMMUNITY TRADE

The Council adopted by a qualified majority, with the German, Austrian and Netherlands delegations voting against, the common position and statement of reasons relating to an amendment to Directive 64/432/EEC on health problems affecting intra-Community trade in bovine animals and swine.

The current Directive provides inter alia for the creation of computer databases for the storage of information on bovine animals and swine and their movements. Under the draft common position the Commission is given the task of adopting appropriate rules of application in order to ensure the operations of the database on swine. In addition, provision is made for this database to enter into force according to a timetable spread over three years: from 31 December 2000 for the register of holdings, from 31 December 2001 for movements of animals from their holding of birth and from 31 December 2002 for movements of animals from all other holdings.

ITEMS APPROVED WITHOUT DEBATE

(Decisions for which statements for the Council minutes are available to the public are indicated by asterisks; the statements in question may be obtained from the Press Office.)

AGRICULTURE

Agricultural statistics

The Council adopted a common position and a statement of reasons with a view to the adoption of a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on the application of aerial-survey and remote-sensing techniques to the agricultural statistics for 1999-2003.

The aim of this proposal for a Decision is to reorganise and continue measures using aerial-survey and remote-sensing techniques for the period 1999-2003. It is planned to continue these activities, reorganised under three main headings:

     the setting up at European level of a system of ground surveys (aerial surveys) of the kind already carried out under the MARS project (surveys by sites on a representative sample at national level);

     the transition from the experimental phase to the operational phase of the agro-meteorological system;

     the provisional suspension of estimating crop areas by remote sensing, as research on alternative methods is currently under way. Activity could however be resumed without prior modification of this proposal.

Hops

The Council adopted an amendment to Regulation (EEC) No 1696/71 on the common organisation of the market in hops. The amendment is designed inter alia to delete from the basic Regulation the provision requiring the Commission to submit a report every year, since the rate of aid is now set every five years rather than every year, and to stipulate that a report should be submitted at the end of each five-year period.

FISHERIES

Agreement with São Tomé e Principe

The Council adopted a Decision on the conclusion of the Agreement between the European Community and the Democratic Republic of São Tomé e Principe on fishing off the coast of São Tomé e Principe setting out the fishing opportunities and the financial contribution for the period 1 June 1999 to 31 May 2002.

The fishing opportunities are allocated among the Member States as follows:

 freezer tuna seiners:    France 18, Spain 18;

 pole-and-line tuna vessels:   France 7;

 surface longliners:    Spain 28, Portugal 5.

The financial compensation is set at EUR 318 750 per year. The Community will contribute an additional EUR 956 250 to financing the measures described below, allocated as follows:

     EUR 286 875 for scientific and technical programmes to promote better understanding of fisheries and living resources in the São Tomé e Príncipe fishing zone;

     stepping up surveillance, inspection and checks in the fishing zones: EUR 286 875;

     institutional support to the administrative department responsible for fisheries: EUR 114 750;

     study grants and practical training courses in the various scientific, technical and economic fields linked to fishing; São Tomé e Príncipe's contributions to international fisheries organisations and expenses of São Tomé e Príncipe delegates participating in international meetings concerning fisheries: EUR 191 250, and

     aid for small-scale fishing: EUR 76 500.

ENERGY

SAVE II and ALTENER II *

Following the agreement reached between the European Parliament and the Council in the Conciliation Committee on 9 December 1999, the Council adopted two Decisions concerning

     a Multi-annual programme for the Promotion of Energy Efficiency (SAVE) 1998-2002, and

     a Multi-annual Programme for the Promotion of Renewable Energy Sources (ALTENER) 1998-2002.

These programmes were summarised in Press Releases 13849/99 (Presse 404) of 9 December 1999 and 12742/99 (Presse 380-G) of 13 November 1998.

RESEARCH

Supplementary research programme for Petten

The Council adopted a Decision on a new supplementary research programme (for 2000-2003) to be implemented by the Joint Research Centre for Euratom, concerning the High-Flux Reactor at Petten.

INTERNAL MARKET

Madrid Agreement concerning the International Registration of Marks

The Council and the representatives of the Governments of the Member States, meeting within the Council, approved the Protocol relating to the Madrid Agreement concerning the International Registration of Marks. The Protocol provides not only that the Community as such can become a party thereto, but also that the Community, as a Contracting Party, will have its own vote in the Madrid Union Assembly.

Approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to noise emissions

The Council adopted its common position with a view to the adoption of a Directive on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the noise emission in the environment by equipment for use outdoors.

Existing Community laws on noise emissions of this kind comprise nine directives; the aim of the common position is to simplify these laws and establish a framework for reducing the noise emitted by such equipment.

LABOUR AND SOCIAL AFFAIRS

Establishment of the Employment Committee *

Following the political agreement reached at the meeting of the Council (Labour and Social Affairs) on 29 November 1999, the Council formally adopted a Decision establishing the Employment Committee. The Employment Committee was introduced by the Treaty of Amsterdam and will replace the existing Employment and Labour Market Committee (see details in Press Release 13457/99 Presse 382 of 29 November 1999).

CULTURAL AND AUDIOVISUAL AFFAIRES

"CULTURE 2000" programme *

Following the agreement reached between the Parliament and the Council in the Conciliation Committee at its meeting on 9 December 1999, the Council formally adopted a Decision establishing the "Culture 2000" programme. The new programme aims at rationalising and strengthening the effectiveness of cultural cooperation actions within a single financing and programming instrument, and replaces the three current cultural programmes KALEIDOSCOPE (artistic and cultural activities), ARIANE (books) and RAPHAEL (cultural heritage). The total budget is 167 MEURO for a 5-year period (1 January 2000 to 31 December 2004). See also Press Release 13850/99 (Presse 405) of 9 December 1999.

ENVIRONMENT

Barcelona Convention

The Council adopted a Recommendation for a Decision authorising the European Community to participate in negotiations on amendments of the Protocol to the Barcelona Convention concerning cooperation in combating pollution of the Mediterranean Sea by oil and other harmful substances.


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