Brussels, 21 January 2002 5283/02 (Presse 7)
2404th Council meeting - AGRICULTURE - Brussels, 21 January 2002
President : Mr Miguel ARIAS CAÑETE, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
PRESENTATION OF THE PRESIDENCY'S WORK PROGRAMME 5
NON-COMMERCIAL MOVEMENTS OF PET ANIMALS 5
VETERINARY AND PHYTOSANITARY ISSUES WITH THIRD COUNTRIES 5
POTATO STARCH PRODUCTION 5
AID FROM THE GOVERNMENT OF PORTUGAL TO PORTUGUESE PIG FARMERS 6
- ANIMAL WELFARE: THIRD COUNTRY ASPECTS 6
- DAMAGE TO GREEK AGRICULTURE DUE TO ADVERSE WEATHER CONDITIONS 6
- EUROPEAN UNION RAPID ALERT SYSTEM FOR FOOD AND FEEDINGSTUFFS 7
ITEMS APPROVED WITHOUT DEBATE
INTERNAL MARKET I
EXTERNAL RELATIONS III
EXTERNAL TRADE IV
RELATIONS WITH CANDIDATE COUNTRIES IV
RELATIONS WITH THE ACP COUNTRIES IV
EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AREA V
EMPLOYMENT AND SOCIAL POLICY VI
CULTURE AND AUDIOVISUAL VI
EUROPEAN FREE TRADE AREA (EFTA) VII
DECISIONS ADOPTED BY WRITTEN PROCEDURE
EXTERNAL RELATIONS VIII
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The Governments of the Member States and the European Commission were represented as follows:
PRESENTATION OF THE PRESIDENCY'S WORK PROGRAMME
The Council took note of a short presentation by the President of the Spanish Presidency's work programme in the area of agriculture. Five major priorities were highlighted:
The President proposed holding a Council meeting on 19 March 2002, which would be open to the Ministers for Agriculture of the candidate countries.
NON-COMMERCIAL MOVEMENTS OF PET ANIMALS
The Council summarised the state of progress on this matter on the basis of suggestions put forward by the Belgian Presidency, in particular regarding whether to introduce transitional measures for certain areas of Community territory. It instructed COREPER to report back on the more detailed discussions being held at experts level in order to arrive at a common position during this six-month period.
VETERINARY AND PHYTOSANITARY ISSUES WITH THIRD COUNTRIES
The Council held an exchange of views on veterinary agreements with third countries in the light of the experience gained with the agreements negotiated and signed since 1995 and of the information provided by the Commission on the negotiations currently being conducted.
It was agreed to return to these issues in the near future in the light of the outcome of talks which the Commission was asked to pursue actively with all the parties, in order both to resolve the implementation problems noted with the agreements already concluded with certain third countries, and to negotiate new agreements, notably with Chile and MERCOSUR.
POTATO STARCH PRODUCTION
The Council held a policy debate on the Commission proposal, taking note of the positions of the various delegations and recording a broad majority in favour of the proposed text. Discussions essentially centred on two main aspects of the proposal: the present level of national quota and the suggested three-year period for the renewal of those quotas.
The Council instructed the Special Committee on Agriculture to take discussions further in particular regarding the technical aspects of the dossier, in order to report back to the Council at a forthcoming meeting once the European Parliament's Opinion had been received.
AID FROM THE GOVERNMENT OF PORTUGAL TO PORTUGUESE PIG FARMERS
The Council analysed the request made by the Government of Portugal and unanimously adopted the Decision set out in 5289/02, with the Netherlands delegation abstaining.
This Decision states that exceptional aid by the Portuguese Government to the Portuguese pig sector, involving the grant of aid to beneficiaries covered by the Commission Decisions of 25 November 1999 and 4 October 2000, totalling not more than EUR 16,3 million, equivalent to the amounts which those beneficiaries must reimburse under those Decisions, are to be considered as compatible with the common market.
The Commission representative submitted a statement (annexed to the minutes) emphasising the Commission's disagreement with the decision taken by the Council.
The Commission was asked by the French delegation to submit as soon as possible a report on the comparison between the provisions on the welfare of laying hens applying within the Community and those applying in third countries supplying the Community. That delegation stressed the particular urgency of the matter in view of the more binding provisions in Community legislation which might result in distortion of competition between Community producers and those in third countries.
In addition, the Danish delegation asked the Commission also to submit also its report on certain measures relating to the welfare of animals during transport.
The Council took note of the Commission's intention to submit these reports shortly under the Spanish Presidency, the report on animal transport being due in March.
The Council was asked, at the request of the Greek delegation, to consider the matter of damage to Greek agriculture following recent adverse weather conditions. The Greek delegation hoped the Commission would carry out a rapid review of the grant of national aid to producers and would show flexibility with regard to the payment of advances and aids to producers. The Italian delegation associated itself with the Greek delegation's request. The Commission asked the Greek authorities to submit a document on the matter as soon as possible, together with a redefinition of the priorities of agricultural operational programmes, and stated that it would show an open mind regarding that delegation's request.
The German delegation drew the attention of the Council and the Commission to the need to implement as soon as possible the Community rapid alert system provided for by the Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning food legislation and the European Food Safety Authority, adopted at the same meeting (see following page), so that such a system would also be available for the risks arising from animal feedingstuffs.
Commissioner BYRNE noted, in connection with the case raised by the German delegation in its Statement (the importation into the Community of shrimps containing traces of an antibiotic), that an inquiry into the matter would be set in motion, the outcome of which would be analysed in conjunction with the Member States within the Commission's competent standing committees.
ITEMS APPROVED WITHOUT DEBATE
The documents for which a reference is given are accessible on the Council's Internet site http://consilium.europa.eu. Adopted acts including the statements in the minutes accessible to the public are indicated by an asterisk; these statements can be obtained by following the procedure indicated above or from the Press Office.
Food legislation and creation of the European Food Safety Authority
The Council approved the amendments proposed by the European Parliament on 11 December 2001 at second reading to the Regulation laying down the general principles and requirements of food law, establishing the European Food Safety Authority and laying down procedures in matters of food safety (15151/01).
By that decision, the Regulation is deemed to be adopted in accordance with the procedure in force (Article 251(3) of the Treaty, co-decision by the European Parliament and the Council).
The Authority established by this Regulation will be able to begin carrying out its activities immediately. In accordance with the Laeken European Council's Conclusions, these will begin in Brussels pending a general agreement on where the agencies' headquarters will be located. The creation of this new authority is one of the main political measures appearing in the White Paper on Food Safety published by the Commission in January 2000 and approved subsequently by the European Council.
The mission of the Food Authority is to provide the Community with the independent scientific and technical advice it needs to support policy and legislation in all areas of food safety. It will contribute to providing a high level of public health protection while not neglecting animal health, plant preservation and environmental protection matters.
The Authority's bodies (Management Board, Executive Director, Advisory Forum, Scientific Committee and scientific working parties) are designed to ensure its independence, its transparency and the scientific excellence of its opinions. They also provide for close cooperation with the competent bodies of Member States in the food safety field.
The Authority's other tasks will be:
to identify and reconcile divergent scientific opinions at Community and Member State levels;
to ensure the public dissemination of reliable, objective and comprehensible information in all areas covered by its mission;
to collect and analyse data and identify emerging risks;
to establish a system of networks of bodies working in the food safety area.
Besides creating the European Food Safety Authority, the Regulation defines the general principles and requirements of food law, the essential objectives of which are to ensure a high level of protection of human health, of the safety and interests of consumers and to ensure that the common market functions effectively.
Residues of veterinary medicinal products in foodstuffs of animal origin
The Council decided against the setting, as proposed by the Commission, of maximum residue limits for residues of norgestomet and progesterone, two steroid hormones used in veterinary medicinal products, in foodstuffs of animal origin.
The proposal, which was intended to amend Annex I to Regulation (EEC) No 2377/90 by adding to it maximum residue limits for norgestomet and progesterone, had been referred to the Council on 30 October 2001 following the negative opinion given by the Standing Committee for Veterinary Medicinal Products. The Council, meanwhile, noted that there was not a qualified majority in favour of the proposed measures, but, on the contrary, a simple majority against their adoption by the Commission.
Aid granted in the seeds sector *
The Council adopted the amendment of the Regulation on the common organisation of the market in seeds and fixing the aid granted in the seeds sector for the 2002/2003 and 2003/2004 marketing years, by a qualified majority with the Swedish delegation voting against.
The amended Regulation carries over the current amounts and provides for the introduction of a stabiliser mechanism based on the setting of a maximum guaranteed quantity for aid, subdivided into national guaranteed quantities. (5101/01 5368/02 ADD 1)
In the light of developments in Afghanistan, and in particular the signing on 10 December 2001 of the Bonn Agreement, the Council adopted a Common Position whereby Common Position 2001/56/CFSP on Afghanistan is repealed. (5083/02)
Relations with the Mediterranean region
The Council noted the Report by the Belgian Presidency on the review of the implementation of the Common Strategy of the European Union on the Mediterranean region for the period July-December 2001.
Syria Negotiations on an Association Agreement
The Council adopted an addition to the negotiating directives with a view to concluding an association agreement between the European Union and Syria.
FYROM Application of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement
The Council adopted a Regulation on certain procedures for applying the Stabilisation and Association Agreement and the Interim Agreement between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, of the other part.
The Regulation is intended to set down certain measures necessary for the adoption of detailed rules for the implementation of certain provisions of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement and of the Interim Agreement, in particular for "baby beef" and fishery products.
Egypt Agreement on trade in textile products
The Council adopted the Decision on the signing and on the provisional application of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Community and the Arab Republic of Egypt on trade in textile products initialled in Brussels on 12 November 2001.
The understanding was thereby renewed for a maximum of two years or until the entry into force of the EU/Egypt Association Agreement (signed on 25 June 2001 and ratification of which should take two to three years) or of an interim agreement. (15379/01)
FYROM Export of certain steel products
The Council adopted a Regulation concerning the export of certain ECSC and EC steel products from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to the European Community and repealing Regulation (EC) No 190/98. The new Regulation is designed to implement the provisions of Protocol 2 to the Interim Agreement on trade and trade-related matters between the European Community and FYROM which entered into force on 1 June 2001. These provisions establish a double-checking system without quantitative limits for imports into the Community of certain steel products, which replaces the similar system created by the previous Cooperation Agreement.
RELATIONS WITH CANDIDATE COUNTRIES
Turkey provisions on competition policy
The Council adopted a Decision on the position to be adopted by the Community within the EC-Turkey Association Council concerning adoption of the rules necessary for the implementation of the provisions on competition policy referred to in Article 37 of Decision 1/95 of the EC-Turkey Association Council. Those rules, which should be adopted by the Association Council, are based on those applying in the Community and specify, inter alia, the role of each competition authority. (14657/01 CE-TR 117/01)
RELATIONS WITH THE ACP COUNTRIES
South Africa Agreements on trade in wine and spirits
The Council adopted two Decisions on the conclusion of two Agreements between the European Community and South Africa:
1. an agreement on trade in wine;
(14383/01 ADD 1)
2. an agreement on trade in spirits.
The two Agreements were initialled on 30 November 2001. The Decisions authorise the President of the Council to appoint the persons empowered to sign the Agreements on behalf of the European Community.
The Council also adopted two Decisions on the provisional application, as from 28 January 2002, of the two Agreements on trade in wine and spirits. (5170/02)
In addition, the Council adopted a Regulation on the adjustment of the tariff quota for wine, which amends Regulation (EC) No 2793/99. (15075/01)
Liberia Follow-up to consultations
The Council approved a letter on the follow-up to consultations under Articles 96 and 97 of the Cotonou Agreement. It should be noted that the consultations were begun in Brussels on 9 November 2001.
Haiti extension of measures
The Council adopted a Decision amending Council Decision 2001/131/EC of 29 January 2001 concluding the consultation procedure with Haiti under Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement. By that Decision, the European Union extends the "appropriate measures" taken under Article 96 until 31 December 2002.
It should be noted that on 2 August 2000 the European Union invited Haiti to participate in consultations under Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement. These consultations took place on 26 September 2000. On 29 January 2001, the Council decided to take the "appropriate measures" referred to in Article 96. Since that Decision expired on 31 December 2001, the Council decided to review it before that date. (15419/01 15422/01)
EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AREA
European Economic Area EEA Agreement
The Council approved the draft Decisions of the EEA Joint Committee amending Annexes XIII (Transport) (14103/01) and XX (Environment) (14519/01) of the Agreement on the European Economic Area, adding to them the acquis adopted recently in those two fields to ensure the legal safety and homogeneity required within the EEA.
Economic and Social Committee
The Council adopted the Decision appointing Mr E. van VELSEN a member of the Economic and Social Committee in place of Mr J.J. van DIJK for the remainder of the latter's term of office, which runs until 20 September 2002.
EMPLOYMENT AND SOCIAL POLICY
Convening of the Conciliation Committee
The Council, noting that it could not accept all the amendments voted by the European Parliament on its Common Positions, decided to convene the Conciliation Committee in accordance with the provisions of the Treaty governing the co-decision procedure, for the following proposals:
CULTURE AND AUDIOVISUAL
Following the meeting of the Culture/Audiovisual Council on 5 November 2001, the Council formally adopted the following texts:
The Council adopted a Decision on the signing of a new Protocol to the Barcelona Convention concerning cooperation in preventing pollution from ships and in combating pollution of the Mediterranean Sea by oil and hazardous and noxious substances in cases of emergency.
The new Protocol updates the legal instruments of the Convention, as amended in 1995, to introduce the measures necessary for the development of a regional strategy on preventing pollution of the marine environment of the Mediterranean caused by ships.
In 1999, the parties to the Convention decided to open negotiations. On the basis of the mandate received by the Council on 24 and 25 January 2001, the Commission took part in negotiations on behalf of the European Community. Negotiating meetings were held during 2001 in Monaco and Malta and led to the drafting of a new Protocol. A last negotiating round will take place in Malta from 20 to 22 January 2002. A conference of plenipotentiaries should adopt the final version on 24 and 25 January 2002. (5287/02)
Fishing off the coast of Cape Verde for the period from 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2004
The Council adopted the Regulation on the conclusion of the Protocol setting out the fishing opportunities as provided for in the Agreement between the European Economic Community and the Republic of Cape Verde on fishing off the coast of Cape Verde for the period from 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2004.
The Regulation approves the Protocol on behalf of the Community and sets out distribution of the fishing opportunities among the Member States concerned (Spain, France, Portugal). (13020/01)
Fishing in Guinea-Bissau for the period from 16 June 2001 to 15 June 2006 *
The Council adopted the Regulation on the conclusion of the fisheries Protocol under the Fisheries Agreement between the Community and the Republic of Guinea-Bissau, on fishing off the coast of Guinea-Bissau for the period 16 June 2001 to 15 June 2006.
The Regulation approves the Protocol on behalf of the Community and sets out distribution of the fishing opportunities among the Member States concerned (Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Portugal). (15502/01 ADD 1 13025/01)
EUROPEAN FREE TRADE AREA (EFTA)
Faroe Islands EC/Denmark-Faroe Islands Agreement
The Council recorded its agreement to the draft Decision of the EC/Denmark-Faroe Islands Joint Committee on the introduction of a new Article on "Accounting Segregation" in Protocol 3 between the parties on the definition of the concept of "originating products" and methods of administrative cooperation.
Public access to Council documents *
The Council adopted a further response to the third confirmatory application for access to documents by Mr Steve PEERS in 2001 and a response to a confirmatory application from Ms Uta ITZEN. The Danish, Netherlands, Finnish and Swedish delegations voted against in both cases.
In addition, the Danish, Netherlands and Swedish delegations made the following statement on the response to Mr PEERS:
"Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden agree that access shall not be given to the requested documents. Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden are of the opinion that the refusal should be based on Article 4(3) of Regulation No 1049/2001."
(5093/1/02 REV 1 5007/02)
DECISIONS ADOPTED BY WRITTEN PROCEDURE
Council Common Position concerning a prohibition on imports of rough diamonds from Sierra Leone
On 11 January the Council adopted a Common Position intended to maintain the prohibition on the direct or indirect imports of all rough diamonds from Sierra Leone, except for rough diamonds whose origin is certified by the Government of Sierra Leone.
On 20 July 2000, the Council adopted a Common Position (2000/455/CFSP) so as to implement the United Nations Security Council's Resolution 1306 (2000) prohibiting such import for an initial period of eighteen months. This Common Position expired on 5 January 2002.
On 19 December 2001, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1385 (2001) whereby the measures imposed by Resolution 1306 (2000) are to remain in force until 5 December 2002. (5048/02)
Environmental noise Convening of the Conciliation Committee
On 16 January 2002 the Council noted by the written procedure that it is not in a position to accept all the amendments to its Common Position voted for by the European Parliament concerning the proposal for a Directive relating to the assessment and management of environmental noise. The Conciliation Committee will therefore be convened in accordance with the provisions of the Treaty governing the co-decision procedure (Article 251).
Urea originating in Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Libya, Lithuania, Romania and the Ukraine
On 17 January 2002 the Council adopted a Regulation imposing a definitive anti-dumping duty and collecting definitively the provisional anti-dumping duty imposed on imports of urea, whether or not in aqueous solution, falling within CN codes 3102 10 10 and 3102 10 90 originating in Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Libya, Lithuania, Romania and the Ukraine. The act was adopted by a majority, with Denmark, Spain, Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom voting against and Greece abstaining.
It should be noted that by Regulation (EC) No 1497/2001 the Commission had imposed a provisional anti-dumping duty on imports of urea originating in those countries. The Commission subsequently continued to investigate and verify all information necessary to obtain definitive conclusions. The investigation by the Commission confirmed the imposition of a definitive anti-dumping duty.
The rate of the definitive anti-dumping duty applicable, before duty, to the net, free-at-Community frontier price shall be as follows: