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C/02/309 Luxembourg, 14-15 October 2002

12900/02 (Presse 309)

2456th Council meeting - AGRICULTURE and FISHERIES - Luxembourg, 14-15 October 2002

President :


Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries of the Kingdom of Denmark














fisheries 13






  • Agricultural statistics * I

  • Fruits and vegetables I

  • Olive oil I


  • European Year of Education through Sport 2004 II

  • Court of Auditors Special Report on the Socrates and Youth for Europe programmes - conclusions II


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

Belgium :

Ms Annemie NEYTS-UYTTEBROECKMinister, attached to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, with responsibility for Agriculture
Mr José HAPPARTMinister for Agriculture and Rural Affairs (Walloon Region)
Ms Vera DUAFlemish Minister for the Environment and Agriculture
Denmark :
Ms Mariann FISCHER BOELMinister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries
Mr Poul OTTOSENState Secretary, Ministry for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries
Germany :
Mr Martin WILLEState Secretary, Federal Ministry for Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture
Greece :
Mr Georgios DRYSMinister for Agriculture
Spain :
Mr Miguel ARIAS CAÑETEMinister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
France :
Mr Hervé GAYMARDMinister for Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Rural Affairs
Ireland :
Mr Joe WALSHMinister for Agriculture and Food
Mr Dermot AHERNMinister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources
Italy :
Mr Giovanni ALEMANNOMinister for Agricultural and Forestry Policy
Mr Paolo SCARPA BONAZZA BUORAState Secretary for Agricultural and Forestry Policy
Luxembourg :
Mr Fernand BODENMinister for Agriculture, Viticulture and Rural Development
Netherlands :
Mr Cees VEERMANMinister for Agriculture, Nature Management and Fisheries
Mr Jan ODINKState Secretary for Agriculture, Nature Management and Fisheries
Austria :
Mr Wilhelm MOLTERERFederal Minister for Agriculture, Forestry, the Environment and Water Management
Portugal :
Mr Armando SEVINATE PINTOMinister for Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries
Mr Luis FRAZÃO GOMESState Secretary for Fisheries, attached to the Minister for Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries
Finland :
Mr Jari KOSKINENMinister for Agriculture and Forestry
Sweden :
Ms Margareta WINBERGMinister for Agriculture and Minister for Equal Opportunities
Mr Per-Göran ÖJEHEIMState Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture
United Kingdom :
Mr Elliot MORLEYParliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
* * *
Commission :
Mr Franz FISCHLERMember
Mr David BYRNEMember




    The Council held a policy debate on this issue (2), on the basis of the Presidency's compromise suggestions, which the Commission accepted, and took note of the fact that the Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Greek delegations still disagreed at this stage with the current wording on the financing issue. The Council agreed to instruct the Permanent Representatives Committee to pursue the in-depth examination of the dossier in order to report back to the Council at its forthcoming session with a view to reaching a possible political agreement.

    The Presidency's compromise addresses three key issues, whose main elements are:

    • Scope of control measures:

        The Community target established for breeding flocks of Gallus gallus for a transitional period of three years shall cover the five most frequent salmonella serotypes in human salmonellosis. For laying hens broilers and turkeys, during the above mentioned period, Community targets shall cover two serotypes with a possible extension to five serotypes.

    • Timetable for their implementation:

      The dates for the implementation of the provisions on controls are expressed in months after the entry into force of the Regulation.

    • Financing of the measures:

      All costs incurred implementing mandatory control measures would, in principle, be eligible for Community co-financing. However, a decision on the level of resources to be allocated would be taken at a later stage.

    The Commission presented these proposals in August 2001 with a view to revising the current regulations in order to improve the control and monitoring of these diseases transmissible from animals to man. The Directive aims to guarantee efficient and harmonised monitoring in the Member States. The Regulation aims to set targets indicating the presence of infectious agents in animal species and if necessary throughout the food chain. The European Parliament gave its Opinion (first reading) on 15 May 2002.


    The Council held a policy debate on the basis of a questionnaire from the Presidency, focussed on the three major elements of the proposal, whose results will be taken into account by COREPER in the preparation of the debate to be held at the next session of the Council in November.

    • Regarding the authorisation procedure for the placing of a GMO on the market, a large majority of delegations expressed their wish to keep a centralised procedure as proposed by the Commission.

    • Concerning the transitional provisions on the threshold set for traces of unauthorised GMOs that have nevertheless been assessed as risk-free, a majority of delegations had an open approach on the Presidency suggestion, while others expressed their concerns regarding the level of the threshold or were doubtful on the time limit. The Presidency suggests to limit the application to GMOs which have received a positive scientific assessment before 31 December 2002, and to limit the tolerance at 1% (which could be reduced by means of a committee procedure) for the maximum proportion of GMO during a transitional period of three years. The Commission supported the Presidency suggestion.

    • Regarding the scope of application for labelling rules and the minimum threshold on this matter for labelled products, a majority of delegations considered that the Presidency suggestion was a good basis for the continuation of the discussion, while others expressed their concerns regarding the exclusion from the scope of application of live animals fed with GMOs, and the proposed level of 1% rate for the threshold applied to labelled products. The Presidency suggests to set a 1% rate threshold for the labelling of GMOs (which could be reduced by means of a committee procedure). The Commission supported the Presidency suggestion.



      The Council adopted the following conclusions (3) :


    WELCOMES the consensus achieved among Heads of States and Governments in Johannesburg at the World Summit on Sustainable Development August-September 2002 on the Political Declaration and on the Plan of Implementation.

    RECALLS the conclusions from GAERC of 30 September 2002 on assessments, priorities and follow up of the Johannesburg commitment.

    RECOGNISES the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation in relation to fisheries and the need to address its targets through the ongoing reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. One of the central objectives of the reform of the CFP is to secure an exploitation of living aquatic resources that provides sustainable environmental, economic and social conditions through the application of the precautionary principle, the strengthening of the eco-system approach and the integration of environmental concerns in fisheries management. Another clear objective of the reform is to achieve balance between fleet capacity and fishing possibilities. The reform addresses the need to restore depleted stocks through specific management plans and it is the aim to reach this objective on an urgent basis and where possible, not later than 2015.

    ENDORSES the focus in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation on the crucial role of Agriculture in addressing the needs of a growing global population, and that it is inextricably linked to poverty eradication, and that sustainable agriculture and rural development are essential to the implementation of an integrated approach to increasing food production and enhancing food security and food safety in an environmentally sustainable way. UNDERLINES the Johannesburg reaffirmation of the Millenium Declaration target to halve by the year 2015 the proportion of the worlds people, who suffer from hunger, and SUPPORTS measures to promote food security and rural development according to the Declaration of the World Food Summit "Five Years Later". ENDORSES the commitment to enhance the participation of women in all aspects and at all levels relating to sustainable agriculture and food security.

    WELCOMES the awareness of the close connection between consumption and production patterns and sustainable development and underlines the necessity to develop and implement a global framework of programmes to achieve sustainable consumption and production patterns.

    RECOGNISES the stress laid by all delegations at the World Summit, and particularly those of developing countries, on the commitments made at Doha to continue the progress towards a fair and market-oriented trading system through comprehensive negotiations aimed, without prejudice to the outcome, at substantial improvements in market access; reductions of, with a view to phasing out, all forms of export subsidies; and substantial reductions in trade distorting domestic support. Special and differential treatment for developing countries is to be an integral part of all elements of these negotiations. Non-trade concerns, which have been reflected in the submissions of members, are also to be taken into account.

    INTENDS to contribute to the negotiations actively. It fully associates itself with all the commitments, (internal and external ones) which have been made both in Doha and in Johannesburg and will take them into account in deciding upon the future course of the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy.

    RECOGNISES that General Affairs Council in November 2002 will review and take stock of preliminary EU-work on the follow up to Johannesburg."


      The Council took note of the different reports which accompanied the Communication on the Mid-Term Review and held an in-depth discussion on rural development, farm auditing, nuts, rice and milk products, on the basis of a Presidency questionnaire, in order to clarify the key issues for delegations.

      The Council instructed the Special Committee on Agriculture to continue to examine the Commission's Communication and to report back at a future session.

      • Rural development

        Most of the delegations supported a strengthening of the second pillar with regard to the improvement of rural development schemes. However, several delegations stressed the need to maintain a strong first pillar (Common Market Organisations). Some delegations expressed their concerns about the 5.000 € franchise which would exempt a vast majority of agricultural holdings from compulsory modulation. A few delegations asked for increased savings with the flat 3% reduction operated on direct payments.

        Most of the delegations welcomed the move towards simplification suggested by the Commission and emphasised the need to improve the rules concerning the financing of rural development schemes with regard to the current EAGGF constraints.

        On the granting of a direct support to farmers complying with restrictive standards on cross-compliance issues, food safety and animal welfare and for promoting food quality, some delegations noted that these new measures would be targeted primarily at farming beneficiaries, excluding de facto holdings in objective 1 areas.

      • Farm auditing

        Several delegations expressed their wish to introduce gradually a voluntary stage, and after the subsequent evaluation to consider the possibility of turning it into a mandatory system . Many delegations also favoured a consulting function to the farm auditing aimed to support the producers in complying with agri-environmental issues, food quality and animal welfare. Most of them favoured the extension of the scope for farm auditing, stressing that the 5.000 € threshold would exempt from this provision most agricultural holdings.

      • Nuts

        Producer Member States expressed concerns regarding the proposed level of the Community flat-rate payment of € 100 per hectare with an optional increase of € 109 per hectare to be paid by Member State. Some of them suggested that the Community share, much lower than at present, would create a distortion of competition among Member States and would result in nationalisation of a CMO measure. They requested further data on the suggested eligible Community Maximum Guaranteed Area (MGA) for aid (800.000 hectares) with regard to the current surface of production.

        Other delegations suggested that funding through rural development schemes could preferably be envisaged, given that the report from the Commission underlines that most production for nuts is located in less favoured areas and that improvement plans did not work efficiently.

      • Rice

        While producer Member States expressed their concerns regarding the level of direct payments to compensate the price cuts and the private storage scheme, other Member States noted the possibility for over-compensation of direct payments.

        On the rice issue, the Commission has proposed to reduce the intervention price by 50% in one step (€298,35/t to € 150/t), to introduce a private storage mechanism, which would be triggered when the market price falls below the basic price. A safety net intervention would be established at 120 €/t. It also suggested a reduction of Maximum Guarantee Areas (MGA), an increase in direct payments (from 52,65 €/t to €177/t), only part of which would be coupled with rice production.

      • Milk

        A majority of delegations supported the statu quo regarding the milk quota regime set in Agenda 2000 even if some of these delegations expressed their readiness to envisage an eventual asymmetric price cut for butter and skimmed milk powder. One delegation asked for an increase of its quota.

        A limited number of delegations supported the abolition of the quota regime. Some delegations suggested an early anticipation in the price cut and the compensation provided for the mid-term review.

        The Commission presented in July a report on the milk quota regime since its introduction in 1984 and gave an overview of the future regime providing four different scenarios from 2008 to 2015 in this sector. The current regime was reformed under agenda 2000. The reform included a reduction of the intervention price for butter and skimmed milk powder, an introduction of direct payments to compensate this reduction, and an increase of the quota. The options are:

        • a status-quo where Agenda 2000 is unchanged until 2015;

        • a renewal of the Agenda 2000 reform;

        • two separate quota (for consumption within the EU and for exports);

        • Abolition of the quota system.



      The Portuguese delegation, supported by the Italian, Greek and Spanish delegations, drew the attention of the Council and the Commission to the recent interruption of the EC voluntary financing for the promotion of olive oil in third countries. The Portuguese delegation emphasised the importance of this activity for EC exports and expressed its wish for the Community to resume its financing.

      Commissioner Fischler, having noted the request of these delegations, mentioned that, following an audit carried out in 2001, it appeared that the International Olive Oil Council (IOOC) did not fully comply with the usual tender procedure with regard to the promotional activities, which led to the cancellation of the ongoing tenders. Addressing also the issue of the extension of the International Olive Oil Agreement, which expires on 31 December 2002, he confirmed that his Institution would soon present a proposal for the extension of this agreement. He undertook to keep the Council informed of the latest developments on these issues.

      This EC funding is granted to IOOC in order to enable promotional and marketing activities to be carried out in third countries where consumption of olive oil is not widespread (United States, Japan, Australia among others). This temporarily decision to suspend promotional activities for olive oil followed an audit on the budget of the IOOC after the Commission asked for further information regarding tenders on the promotion activities. The EC contribution represents 91% of the promotional budget of IOOC.


      Following the announcement of the Greek delegation regarding a possible granting of a national aid for cotton producers, presented at the Council on 23 September 2002 (4), Commissioner Fischler informed the Council that the Greek delegation would have to notify formally to the Commission any plans to grant the aid pursuant to Article 88 § 3 of the EC Treaty. He noted, regarding the substance of the Greek request, that his Institution had concerns on the legal aspects of such aid and on the possibility to allow it.

      The Greek delegation having recalled its initial announcement mentioned it had sent a formal request to the Council pursuant to Article 88 paragraph 2 subparagraph 3 of the Treaty and that a formal request had been submitted to the Commission.

      The Presidency agreed to come back to this item at the next session of the Council.


      The French delegation drew the attention of the Commission and the Council to the increasing volume of wheat imports from Russia and Ukraine on the Community market.

      This delegation asked Commissioner Fischler to inform the Council on the latest state of play in the negotiations with third countries carried out under Article XXVIII of the GATT.

      Commissioner Fischler explained that talks have to be pursued with the parties possessing a negotiating right and noted that talks already took place with Argentina and Australia and would be engaged with Canada very soon. He emphasised the US have not yet decided on whether to engage on negotiating and the need for a quick agreement on this issue in compliance with World Trade Organisation rules, and stressed that the level for import quotas could not be reduced below traditional imports flows.



      The Council held an in-depth debate on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy on the basis of a Presidency questionnaire and took note of the remarks made by delegations which shall be taken into account with a view to the preparation of a compromise at a future meeting of the Council.

      The Presidency indicated that, in the meantime, bilateral consultations would be held to tackle outstanding technical issues and that work would continue at the political level at the November Council meeting.

      • Regarding the important issue of access to waters and resources, most delegations supported the idea of keeping the current 6-12 miles regime of restricted access to coastal waters. Some delegations stressed that this regime could not be permanent with a review clause to be applied in ten years. A majority of delegations emphasised that this regime should be maintained without any time limit.

      • On control and enforcement, a majority of delegations could accept a catalogue of sanctions in Community legislation. Some of them emphasised the necessity to have Community administrative sanctions rather than criminal sanctions. In any case, the implementation of any sanctions regime should be left to the competence of Member States. Several delegations could support multinational inspections in the Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ) of Member States and International waters, provided that these inspections could take place in the presence on an inspector of the coastal Member State concerned. Regarding a possible extension of the Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) to all vessels, some Member States favoured an extension to vessels over 15 or 18 meters.

        For the access to waters beyond the 12 miles limit, several delegations took the view that any restriction in free and equal access should be justified by a real conservation need. Some delegations also emphasised socio-economic and regional concerns.

      • On good governance, most of the delegations supported the overall objective of involving all concerned stakeholders in particular fishermen and the fishing industry in the Regional Advisory Councils (RACs).

        Several delegations expressed their concerns regarding the composition of these Councils, in particular about the role that Member States should play and the level of representation of the fishermen. Some of the delegations favoured an observer status for Member States in RACs while other delegations insisted on the necessity for Member States to play an active role and to enhance the representation of fishermen as the primary stakeholders.


      The Council took note of the comments made by delegations on the basis of a Commission non-paper on the proposal for the recovery of cod and hake stocks and instructed the Permanent Representatives Committee to actively pursue its work with a view to reaching a compromise before the end of the year. Several delegations welcomed the changes brought by the Commission to its initial proposal on cod and hake on the basis of the latest scientific advice. Some of them expressed the wish to reach a rapid agreement on this proposal in view of the important depletion of these fish stocks, in particular cod.

      The changes to the initial recovery plan include the following main elements:

      • hake: the proposal contains targets for stock sizes as well as rules for deciding annual TACs. Based on revised scientific data the proposed target spawning stock biomass (SSB) for Northern hake could be set at 143 000 tonnes instead of 165 000 tonnes. The maximum allowed fishing mortality rate for this stock could be increased (from 0.20 to 0.24) and the annual target rate of biomass increase could be decreased to 10%, instead of 15% without severely bringing into question the recovery plan. Mathematical simulations also indicate that the maximum annual TAC variations could be limited to 30% instead of 50% as initially proposed.

      • cod: the annual target rate of biomass increase should be maintained at 30%, with an increase of 45% for the Irish sea cod; TAC variations could be limited to 30% instead of 50%.

      • fishing effort limitations: the Commission proposal defines a method based on landings of individual vessels per Member State. A new method proposed would be based on the fishing mortality generated by each vessel on each stock rather than a reduction on the whole recovery stock. Fishing effort levels would be decided according to the need to reduce the total fishing mortality in each area and would not apply to vessels with a volume of catches inferior to 100 tonnes per year.


      The Council took note of the official presentation by Commissioner Fischler(5) of the Communication for an action plan for fisheries management in the Mediterranean and of the intervention of four delegations.

      Commissioner Fischler emphasised the need to take into account specific features in the Mediterranean such as the scientific information available and the variety of fisheries in this sea. He noted that this Communication foresees four major innovations among which fishery protection zones for international waters, better reporting and improved data on stocks development, the involvement of stakeholders in the framework of the Regional Advisory Councils (RACs) and improved management of the fishing effort at Community level and at Member States level.

      The Italian, French, Greek and Spanish delegations welcomed the Communication of the Commission. These delegations, without prejudice of a further examination, stressed the need to take account of the specific situation in this area, to improve the cooperation with third coastal States and to ensure a better management of the resources.

      The Council instructed the Permanent Representatives Committee to proceed to an in-depth examination of the Commission's Communication and to report back at a future session.



    Agricultural statistics *

    (doc. 3650/02 + 11959/02 ADD 1)

    (Adoption of this point was open to the public)

    The Council unanimously adopted the Decision (with the abstention of the German and Swedish delegations) amending Council Decision 96/411/EC on improving Community agricultural statistics, after the European Parliament delivered its Opinion at first reading on 3 September 2002. This Decision extends the action taken to improve the agricultural statistics system until 2007. A statement by the Commission underlines the need to include under Community TAPAS action plans projects having a clear Community interest.

    Fruits and vegetables

    (doc. 12453/02)

    The Council adopted a Regulation, the Italian delegation voting against, amending Regulation (EC) Nº 2200/96 on fruits and vegetables. In the current Regulation (EC) 2200/96, a transitional period of 2 years - which can be extended to 5 years - had been set for the producer organisations (PO's) in Article 13. This period was introduced to enable PO's to qualify for recognition under the new Regulation. The entry into force for this specific provision had been set on 21 November 1996 while the date of application for the whole Regulation was set on 1.1.1997. The adopted Regulation intends to correct this mistake by amending Article 13 and setting the beginning of the transitional period on 1.1.1997.

    Olive oil

    (doc. 12267/02)

    The Council adopted a Regulation setting the limits to the Community financing of work programmes drawn up by approved operators' organisations in the olive sector. It aims to encourage operators in the olive oil sector to organise themselves, in particular with a view to improving quality. At present, measures to improve quality are financed by means of two amounts withheld based on actual annual production in the Member States. This new Regulation changes the basis for calculation of the amount withheld to a maximum of 3%, referring to the unit amount of the production aid and the national guaranteed quantity, thus making it possible to prevent the current fluctuations linked to the actual levels of production achieved.


    European Year of Education through Sport 2004

    (doc. 9605/02)

    (Adoption of this point was open to the public)

    The Council adopted a common position on a proposal for a Decision of the European Parliament and the Council aimed at establishing 2004 as the European Year of Education through Sport. The text will be sent to the Parliament for a second reading under the co-decision procedure.

    The programme aims to promote the educational value of sport, in particular among young people. A budget of EUR 11.5 million is provided for the implementation of its activities.

    Court of Auditors Special Report on the Socrates and Youth for Europe programmes - conclusions

    (doc. 12183/02)

    The Council adopted the following set of Conclusions on the Court of Auditors Special Report (2/2002) on the Socrates and Youth for Europe Community action programmes:

      "1. The Council welcomes the Special report on the Socrates (1995-99) and Youth for Europe (1995-99) Community Action Programmes and has taken due note of the comments and recommendations of the Court as well as the replies given by the Commission which are annexed to the report.

      2. More specifically, the Council has taken note of the following:

      • the programmes have contributed to the strengthening of cooperation between various actors involved in the education field in the European Union and in the other participant countries and have made multicultural exchange activities possible for young people

      • criticism of the design of the programmes, in particular the complexity of the Socrates programme, and the lack of synergy between the programme actions as well as with other Community Programmes;

        • as far as centralised activities are concerned, various deficiencies in the functioning of the Technical Assistance Offices (TAOs) were identified especially in terms of accounting procedures;

      • as far as decentralised actions were concerned, there was an urgent need to clarify the legal status of national agencies and to address the question of the lack of means at their disposal;

      • delays and inadequate management in regard to the implementation of the programmes

      • delays and deficiencies in the evaluation process.

      3. With respect to the report of the Court of Auditors and the Commission's replies, the Council acknowledges that in drawing up the current Socrates (2000-2006) and Youth (2000-2006) Community action programmes many improvements have been introduced, in relation to their coherence, legibility, accessibility and administrative procedures. The current Youth programme has rationalised many disparate actions and the current Socrates programme, while still remaining relatively complex in structure, has remedied many of the shortcomings of the previous programme as regards administration and implementation.

      4. Having regard to the TAOs, the Council notes the reforms under way whereby the Commission proposes to replace the TAOs with executive agencies under its direct control in accordance with a framework regulation

      5. Having regard to the National Agencies, the Council notes the improvements that have been introduced in the current programmes whereby obligations and responsibilities have been clearly defined for both the Commission and national authorities (i.e. contractual relations within a strict legal framework) and that further improvements are envisaged in the future

      6. The Council stresses the importance of Community action in the fields of education and youth as a cornerstone in the promotion of a European area of knowledge both through developing a European dimension in education and training (having particular regard to the future objectives for education and training systems in Europe for 2010), and a European area of cooperation in youth policy based on non-formal and informal learning.

      7. The Council consequently looks forward to the preparation of the new generation of Community actions in the fields of education, training and youth which will draw on the lessons of the past, which will be structurally clear and coherent, avoid unnecessary complexity and provide ease of access to the target publics. These actions should make a major contribution, together with other initiatives, and in particular the detailed work programme on the follow-up of the objectives of education and Training systems in Europe, to the creation of a European area of knowledge and the attainment of the strategic objective set out in the conclusions of the Lisbon European Council for the European Union to become the world's most dynamic knowledge-based economy."


    (1) ?Where declarations, conclusions or resolutions have been formally adopted by the Council, this is indicated in the heading for the item concerned and the text is placed between quotation marks.?The documents whose references are given in the text are available on the Council's Internet site HYPERLINK "" adopted with statements for the Council minutes which may be released to the public are indicated by an asterisk; these statements are available on the above mentioned Council Internet site or may be obtained from the Press Office.

    (2) The Council's deliberations were open to the public.

    (3) The Swedish delegation made an oral statement.

    (4) Press release doc. 12048/02 p. 16.

    (5) See Press release 12048/02, p.19

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