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2494th Council meeting - AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES - Brussels, 17-18 March 2003

Conseil de l'Europe - PRES/03/76   17/03/2003

Autres langues disponibles: FR DE DA ES NL IT SV PT FI EL

C/03/76

Brussels, 17-18 March 2003

7425/03 (Presse 76)

2494th Council meeting

- AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES - Brussels, 17-18 March 2003

President : Mr Georgios DRYS, Minister for Agriculture of the Hellenic Republic

CONTENTS (1)

PARTICIPANTS 4

ITEMS DEBATED

AGRICULTURE 5

CAP REFORM: A LONG-TERM POLICY PERSPECTIVE FOR SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE - Presidency Conclusions 5

WORLD TRADE ORGANISATION (WTO) - MODALITIES FOR NEGOCIATIONS ON AGRICULTURE 5

STATE AID - ITALIAN REQUEST 6

food safety 6

COMITOLOGY PROCEDURE - PESTICIDES * 6

BSE 7

OTHER BUSINESS 8

     French initiative for Africa 8

     Fisheries - Recovery measures for cod 9

     Fisheries - Impact of the increase of fuel prices on the fishermen's situation 9

     Food Safety 10

ITEMS APPROVED WITHOUT DEBATE

Agriculture

  • Argentinean wines I

  • Additives for use in animal nutrition * - Public deliberation I

  • Genetically modified food and feed * - Public deliberation I

ENVIRONMENT

  • Traceability and labelling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs)* - Public deliberation II

  • Animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes - Public deliberation II

  • Greenhouse gas emission allowance trading * - Public deliberation III

CUSTOMS UNION

  • Kyoto Convention III

RESEARCH

  • Community statistics on science and technology - Public deliberation IV

MARITIME TRANSPORT

  • Safety rules and standards for passenger ships * - Public deliberation IV

  • Specific stability requirements for ro-ro passenger ships * - Public deliberation IV

  • Prohibition of organotin compounds on ships * - Public deliberation V

AIR TRANSPORT

  • "Single European Sky" package * - Public deliberation V

  • Compensation and assistance to air passengers * - Public deliberation VI

EXTERNAL RELATIONS

  • EU-Ukraine - Preparation of the 6th Co-operation Council VI

  • EU-Moldova - Preparation of the 5th Co-operation Council VI

TRADE POLICY

  • EU-Vietnam - Prevention of fraud in trade in footwear products VI

TRANSPARENCY

  • Public access to Council documents VII

COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES

  • Appointment VII

PARTICIPANTS

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

Belgium :

Ms Annemie NEYTS-UYTTENBROEK

Minister, attached to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, with responsibility for Agriculture

Mr José HAPPARTMinister for Agriculture and Rural Affairs (Walloon Region)
Denmark :
Ms Mariann FISCHER BOELMinister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries
Mr Poul OTTOSENState Secretary, Ministry for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries
Germany :
Ms Renate KÜNASTFederal Minister for Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture
Mr Alexander MÜLLERState Secretary, Federal Ministry of Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture
Greece :
Mr Georgios DRYSMinister for Agriculture
Mr Andreas KORAKASSecretary General, Ministry 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
Italy :
Mr Giovanni ALEMANNOMinister 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 Joseph PRÖLLFederal Minister for Agriculture, Forestry, the Environment and Water Management
Portugal :
Mr Armando SEVINATE PINTOMinister for Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries
Finland :
Mr Jari KOSKINENMinister for Agriculture and Forestry
Sweden :
Ms Ann-Christin NYKVISTMinister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries
United Kingdom :
Lord WHITTYParliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Mr Ross FINNIEMinister for Environment and Rural Development (Scottish Executive)
Mr Michael GERMANDeputy First Minister and Minister for Economic Development (Welsh Assembly)
* * *
Commission :
Mr Franz FISCHLERMember
Mr David BYRNEMember

ITEMS DEBATED

AGRICULTURE

CAP REFORM: A LONG-TERM POLICY PERSPECTIVE FOR SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE - Presidency Conclusions

On the basis of a questionnaire from the Presidency, the Council held a political discussion on five of the Commission's nine proposals for CAP reform.

Although an overall assessment cannot be made until all the proposals have been evaluated, it has been possible to identify some broad tendencies in the Council. It will be necessary to consider these again when the proposed horizontal Regulation is examined, especially as concerns rice, durum wheat and cereals.

Regarding the milk sector, the position of delegations are mixed regarding the package of measures and the timeframes which the Commission has proposed.

Concerning the rice sector, the Council is unanimous in its opinion that reform of the sector is essential. However, the Commission proposals are strongly opposed by the rice-producing Member States who consider that the measures in their present form are insufficient to ensure the viability of the sector.

When it comes to the cereals sector, many delegations consider that the market situation does not justify a departure from the agreement reached in Agenda 2000. For many delegations, the question of compensation is central to the continuing negotiations. The proposals on rye cannot be accepted by certain delegations unless they are accompanied by other measures to soften the impact or adapt the measure to specific circumstances.

Finally, one delegation requested guarantees for the financing of Mediterranean products that are not included in the present package of proposal by the Commission.

As regards rural development, there was agreement in the Council on the objectives of the proposal and there was progress towards agreeing the substance of many measures. Nonetheless, a majority of delegations considers that the value of this exercise is substantially reduced by the lack of additional financing for the second pillar before 2007 and by the limited financing after that date, compared with the targets announced in the Commission's Communication of July 2002.

WORLD TRADE ORGANISATION (WTO) - MODALITIES FOR NEGOCIATIONS ON AGRICULTURE

The Council took note of the information and comments provided by the Commissioner Fischler on the latest developments concerning the WTO talks on agriculture, especially regarding Mr Harbinson's first draft on modalities.

Commissioner Fischler, having noted that Mr Harbinson's first draft had not received yet sufficient support at the WTO, emphasised that the existing document left a gap concerning export credits and food support measures. He stressed that it would disadvantage both industrialised countries involved in a reform process and many developing countries regarding the reduction of preferential treatment. He made clear that respecting the deadline of 31 March would be very difficult, as technical work was still needed on six key areas, namely export credits, food aid, strategic products, quotas administration, non trade concerns, preferential treatment (customs preferences) for developing countries. He also underlined the need for a continuing pressure by the European Community on the WTO discussions prior to the ministerial meeting in Cancun (10-14th September 2003).

It is recalled that on 20 February, the Council also held a detailed discussion concerning the most recent developments in the negotiation of a new Agreement on Agriculture in the WTO (doc. 6160/03) before the fifth Ministerial Session in Cancun.

STATE AID - ITALIAN REQUEST

The Council agreed to come back on the Decision regarding the request by the Italian Government to grant national aid in order to compensate the financial insolvency of agricultural producers, members of co-operatives, which gave guarantees on their own goods before 1993, at its forthcoming meeting, on 7-8 April.

Part of this aid (€ 118.785.086,79) would be given on behalf of the Italian national law as the remaining part (€ 80.165.000) would be given on behalf of the regional Sicily Law.

It is recalled that the Italian delegation presented a request to the attention of the Council for permission to grant national aid under Article 88(2) third subparagraph of the Treaty. This would consist into applying Italian national and regional laws, which provided for the Italian State to assume the obligations entailed by security provided for agricultural co-operatives by their members, where those co-operatives were in a situation of established insolvency.

food safety

COMITOLOGY PROCEDURE - PESTICIDES *

The Council reached agreement on the Decision concerning the non-inclusion of aldicarb in Annex I to Council Directive 91/414/EEC and the withdrawal of authorisations for plant protection products containing this active substance, on the basis of a Presidency compromise, which the Commission endorsed. The Decision was adopted by qualified majority, by way of written procedure. The German, Swedish and Luxembourg delegations voted against. The Austrian delegation abstained.

It is recalled that the initial proposal for a Decision concerned the non-inclusion of aldicarb in Annex I to Council Directive 91/414/EEC and the withdrawal of authorisations for plant protection products containing this active substance within a period of six months with a period of grace not longer than eighteen months.

Council Directive 91/414/EEC currently provides a framework for the authorisation and the placing on the market of plant protection products, including a programme to be carried out over a period of 12 years - until 2003 - for the gradual examination of the active substances contained in the pesticides, which are on the market for the inclusion in Annex I of this Directive.

Under the current EU legislation, the notifier of a product submits an information to the Commission. A Member State is then appointed as rapporteur to present an assessment report to the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health on the information provided. The Standing Committee failed to deliver a favourable opinion on 18 October 2002, as it appeared that aldicarb could present a high risk in its present granular formulation in particular to small birds and earthworms. Scientific assessment provided by the notifier was considered insufficient to determine whether or not, under the proposed conditions of use, plant protection products containing the active substance concerned would satisfy in general the requirements laid down in the Directive.

Pursuant to comitology rules, the dossier was forwarded on 17 December 2002 to the Council for a Decision to be taken by qualified majority within a three months period.

The main changes of this compromise compare to the initial proposal are:

  • the inclusion of a derogation until 2007 for eight Member States to use aldicarb (instead of 18 months after the adoption of the Decision in the initial proposal);

  • this use must be motivated and only for essential purposes and main crops (ex: sugarbeet, citrus, potatoes, garlic, onions);

  • the use of this substance must not harm human or animal health;

  • the Member States using this substance should look for alternatives;

  • the Member States concerned would present a report by 31/12/2004 to the Commission on the implementation of these conditions and estimates of the amounts of aldicarb used.

Aldicarb is a systemic pesticide used to control nematodes in soil and insects and mites on a variety of crops. It is very soluble in water and is highly mobile in soil. It degrades mainly by biodegradation and hydrolysis, persisting for weeks to months. It has been frequently found as a contaminant in ground water.(2)

BSE

The Council noted the Commission Representative's status report on Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) as well as on Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy (TSE).

Commissioner Byrne indicated that, regarding BSE figures, more than 10 million tests were carried out on cattle in 2002- an increase of 10% compared to 2001, and that the total number of cases remained stable. He noted the ratio of positive cases found in tested animals dropped by 22%. Regarding scrapie, more than 360.000 tests were carried out on sheep and goats in 2002. Concerning Specified Risk Materials, he recalled that a proposal to add ileum to the list of SRM received technical agreement of the Standing Committee of the Food Chain and Animal Health in February. He informed the Council on the implementation of the new animal by-products Regulation by May and paid tribute to the Scientific Steering Committee to be replaced by the European Food Safety Authority.

Commissioner Byrne also informed the Council of the new Commission proposal to amend Regulation (EC) No 999/2001 to permit current transitional arrangements to remain in place for up until 1 July 2005 in order to prevent that the spread of BSE and contamination of the food chain. He expressed the wish this proposal could be adopted rapidly.

These measures would include in particular the ban on using meat and bone meal flour in animal feed, the removal of specified risk material from the food chain, the prohibition of certain slaughter methods, of feeding processed animal protein to animals farmed for food, and export restrictions on the United-Kingdom and Portugal. It is proposed to extend these current provisions until 2005 as the discussions on categorising countries for BSE status are still continuing in international fora.

OTHER BUSINESS

  • French initiative for Africa

    The Council took note of the communication from the French delegation on the economic initiatives this delegation recommends to be taken in a wide context to the benefit of Africa, and of the reactions of the Commission representative on the matter.

    The French delegation drew the attention of the Council and the Commission to the urgent need to launch an initiative at Community level for the benefit of sub-Saharan African countries, following the France-Africa summit that took place in Paris on 20-21 February 2003. The initiative consists of a preferential treatment for trade, measures to protect producers from fluctuations in raw materials prices and a moratorium on all forms of export support for agricultural products destined for the region. The French delegation recommends that these initiatives be taken up by multilateral bodies, such as WTO and G8, with the leadership and encouragement of the Union.

    Commissioner Fischler welcomed the suggestion from the French delegation, indicated that his Institution would carefully examine it and invited the French delegation to work actively with the Commission on the examination of this issue. He reminded the Council that the European Community had always played a leading role in promoting the part of developing countries in international trade and emphasised the need for all developed countries to act in such direction. Nevertheless, he mentioned that the geographical scope of the countries concerned - sub Saharan Africa - had first to be defined.

  • Fisheries - Recovery measures for cod

    The Danish delegation drew the attention of the Council and the Commission to the situation concerning cod recovery with regard to a Council's declaration made at the December Council (16-20 December 2002) and to the temporary measures adopted within Annex XVII of the TACs and Quotas Regulation for 2003 (EC Council regulation nº2341/2002). The Council's declaration stipulated that the Commission should present by 15 February 2003 at the latest any further elements for a decision, which the Council will take before 31 March 2003 with a view to its entry intro force on 1 July 2003. The Danish delegation, supported by the Swedish and German delegations asked for a rapid presentation by the Commission of a proposal on cod and hake recovery stocks management, which could replace the current provisional arrangements and invited the Presidency and the Commission to work actively on a long-term recovery plan. The Belgian delegation expressed its concerns regarding the definition of the number of days spent at sea within Annex XVII of the TACs and Quotas Regulation for 2003, as many fishermen spend several days before arriving at the fishing grounds.

    Commissioner Fischler mentioned that his services were currently working, on the one hand, on the adaptation of the temporary measures on certain cod stocks and on the other hand, on a proposal on cod and hake recovery stocks. He recalled that consultations have been taking place between the Commission and Member States in order to adjust the short-term effort limitations measures and the long term recovery proposal by the Commission. In early February and on 10/11 March, consultations between the Commission with stakeholders have also been held in order to define a new long-term approach for cod recovery, based on fishing effort limitations. Concerning the adaptation of the current provisions, he identified three possible changes to the current system:

    • the definition of the number of days spent at sea should be structured in a more flexible way;

    • the number of days at sea could be transferred to larger fishing vessels;

    • the days spent at sea during a emergency situation such as severe meteorological weather conditions or unexpected events where fishermen could not work, would not be taken into account.

    Regarding the long-term proposal on cod and hake recovery stocks, he noted this proposal could be presented by the beginning of May.

  • Fisheries - Impact of the increase of fuel prices on the fishermen's situation

    The French delegation, supported by the Spanish and Greek delegations, drew the attention of the Council and the Commission to the increasing prices for fuel used by fishermen and by the impact of the soaring prices on the fishing sector in France. The French delegation noted that this continuing increase of the fuel prices could lead French fishermen to stay at port if the fuel prices were to go over a certain threshold (38 cent/litre). The French delegation asked for an initiative, to be taken at Community level, to deal with this issue, with regard to the growing concerns of the fishing sector. The Spanish delegation emphasised the need for providing support to the agricultural sector as well as the fishing sector and expressed concerns regarding the growing demands for State aids.

    Commissioner Fischler, having noted the high volatility of fuel prices, underlined the need for a coherent and global approach and warned that granting aid to compensate the price increase would necessarily be under careful scrutiny of his institution in order to ensure there was no possible distortion of competition. He pointed out that a Community approach should have an impact on all sectors and that he would consider what kind of measures could be necessary. He mentioned he would soon report this issue to his Institution.

  • Food Safety

    Avian influenza in the Netherlands

    The Dutch delegation drew the attention of the Council and the Commission to the current situation in the Netherlands concerning the spread of avian influenza in this country (doc. 7437/03). The Belgian delegation reported that strict measures had been taken by Belgium on Dutch imports from poultry and hatching eggs and that suspected farms at the Dutch border had been cleared on a preventive basis. He noted that no case of avian influenza had been reported up to now in Belgium and expressed the wish that the Commission withdraws its Decision of 12 March 2003 concerning protective measures in relation to strong suspicion of avian influenza in Belgium (OJ L 69, 13.3.2003).

    Commissioner Byrne welcomed the efforts done by the Dutch and Belgian delegations, emphasised the high danger of contamination represented by avian influenza, a contagious disease of the poultry. He noted that more than 150 infected, suspected or at risk poultry farms had already been depopulated in the Netherlands, in order to interrupt rapidly the spread of infection. He mentioned the possibility of using vaccination, currently under examination. He indicated that the most likely origin of the outbreaks was wild waterfowl. He insisted on the survey resulting from special monitoring programme on poultry and wild birds launched in 2002 and co-financed by the Commission, in order for his Institution to prepare a new proposal on the control of the disease. He noted that the existing provisions regarding the outbreak could only be lifted progressively and after full and careful examination of the situation

    Illegal use of Nitrofurans in Portugal

    The Portuguese delegation drew the attention of the Council and the Commission to the latest developments following the discovery of illegal use of nitrofurans (antibiotics) in poultry, turkey and in quail in poultry farms in Portugal (doc. 7464/03). In late October 2002 the Portuguese national reference laboratory systematically introduced, on a voluntary basis, a new, more sensitive method of analysis for detecting the metabolite (AMOZ) produced by furaltadone. The analyses carried out confronted the Portuguese authorities with positive findings, showing residues to be present, particularly in poultry meat. The Portuguese authorities have developed an action plan. The authorities have closed down several farms in the country and are now preparing to order the slaughter of a large number of poultry if the tests confirm the presence of the antibiotic. An enquiry into the use and trafficking of this antibiotic has also been opened. The use of nitrofurans, suspected of increasing the risks of cancer in humans, has been banned in the EU since 1994(3). Samples in the sequestrated farms have been sent for examination to laboratories in France, Germany and the Netherlands. The Spanish delegation expressed its concerns regarding this issue.

    Commissioner Byrne stressed that the discovery of illegal use of nitrofurans in Portugal demonstrated the efficiency of the Community residue monitoring system. He invited Member States to monitoring for nitrofurans in their residue monitoring plans for 2003 and underlined the need for an equal approach without discrimination for all food safety issues whether for products produced in the Community or imported from third countries.

ITEMS APPROVED WITHOUT DEBATE

Agriculture

Argentinean wines

The Council adopted by qualified majority, the Italian delegation voting against, a Regulation authorising the offer and delivery for direct human consumption of certain wines imported from Argentina which may have undergone oenological processes not provided for in the EC Regulation on Common Market Organisation of wines (docs 5484/1/03 REV1). This Regulation provides a temporary derogation until an agreement between the EC and Argentina on oenological practices and on geographical indications had been reached and by 30 September 2003 the latest for wines from Argentina, which contain malic acid. This authorisation also covers wines from Argentina imported in the Community - mostly in Germany - as from 1 January 2001. If an agreement was not to be found by 30 September 2003, the derogation could be extended. Malic acid is an acid naturally included in apples or bitter fruits(4), which gives to wines a sweet and fruity taste.

Additives for use in animal nutrition * - Public deliberation

The Council adopted by qualified majority - the Austrian delegation voting against -a Common position with a view to the adoption of a Regulation on additives for use in animal nutrition (doc. 15776/02 + 6715/03 ADD1). The proposal is intended to simplify the existing rules regarding the authorisation procedure of additives in feedingstuffs, distinguish clearly between the risk evaluation (European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)) and the risk management (Commission and Member States). It lays down provisions for the phasing out of antibiotics used as growth promoters, and maintain the use of coccidiostats as feed additives and to consolidate EU provisions on additives for use in animal nutrition. In accordance with the co-decision procedure, the common position will be forwarded to the European Parliament for a second reading.

Genetically modified food and feed * - Public deliberation

The Council adopted by qualified majority - the Luxembourg, Austrian and United-Kingdom delegations voting against - a Common position with a view to the adoption of Regulation on genetically modified food and feed (doc. 5204/03 + 6780/03 ADD1). The aim of this proposal is to guarantee a high level of protection for human life and health, animal health, the environment and consumers' interests as regards genetically modified food and feed, while ensuring that the internal market functions properly; It also establish clear and transparent Community procedures to assess, authorise and monitor genetically modified food and feed and a system for the labelling of genetically modified food and feed. In accordance with the co-decision procedure, the common position will be forwarded to the European Parliament for a second reading.

ENVIRONMENT

Traceability and labelling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs)* - Public deliberation

The Council adopted a Common position on a proposal for a Regulation concerning the traceability and labelling of GMOs and of food and feed products produced from GMOs (doc. 15798/02 + doc. 6903/03 ADD1). The Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the Danish delegations were unable to support the common position. In accordance with the co-decision procedure, the common position will be forwarded to the European Parliament for a second reading.

The proposed Regulation is aimed at amending certain aspects of Directive 2001/18/EC on the deliberate release into the environment of GMOs. It aims to establish a framework for the traceability of products consisting of or containing GMOs, and food and feed derived from GMOs, with the objective of facilitating accurate labelling, monitoring of the effects on the environment and, where appropriate, on human health. Moreover, it aimed at facilitating the implementation of appropriate risk management measures including, if necessary, withdrawal of products from the market (for further details see our press release, doc. 15101/02).

Animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes - Public deliberation

The Council adopted a Common position on a proposal for a Directive concerning the protection of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes (doc. 5240/03). In accordance with the co-decision procedure, the common position will be forwarded to the European Parliament for a second reading.

The proposal is aimed at ensuring the consistency of the Annexes to Directive 86/609/EC on the general care and accommodation of animals, with the latest scientific and technical developments and results of research within the fields concerned. The latter relate to, inter alia, the safety testing of drugs and foodstuffs, the diagnosis or treatment of disease and the protection of the natural environment in the interests of the health or welfare of man or animal.

Directive 86/609/EC on the approximation of laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States regarding the protection of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes is the implementing instrument at Community level of the Council of Europe Convention for the protection of vertebrate animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes (ETS 123 of 18 March 1986).

The Council of Europe has opened for signature and ratification a "Protocol of Amendment" to the Convention which aims at introducing a simplified procedure to modify its provisions on animal accommodation and general care instead of the usual lengthy procedure which requires ratification by all Parties. This would allow the Convention to stay abreast of the latest scientific developments and knowledge on the welfare of animals kept in laboratories.

In order to bring the current Directive 86/609/EC in line with the "Protocol of Amendment" the proposed Directive provides for the replacement of the full Council-Parliament co-decision procedure with a regulatory committee. The committee should be set in accordance with Decision 99/468/EC which lays down the procedures for the exercise of implementing powers conferred on to the Commission. This would allow for a more flexible and rapid introduction of changes to the Annexes to Directive 86/609/EC on the conditions of animal accommodation and general care.

The Council's common position introduces in the text of the proposal the standard wording as regards the comitology procedure.

Greenhouse gas emission allowance trading * - Public deliberation

The Council adopted a Common position on a proposal for a Directive establishing a scheme for green house gas emission allowance trading within the Community (doc. 15792/02). In accordance with the co-decision procedure, the common position will be forwarded to the European Parliament for a second reading.

The proposed Directive aims to create an instrument of environmental protection to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in a cost-effective manner, in order to allow the Union to meet its obligations under the United Nations (UN) Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol. While seeking an overall reduction in greenhouse emissions, it also aims to ensure the proper functioning of the Internal Market and prevent any distortions of competition which might result from the establishment of separate national trading schemes. The first phase of the proposed scheme covers the period between 2005 and 2007. It precedes the Kyoto Protocol's first commitment period from 2008 to 2012, which corresponds to the second phase of the scheme.

The trading scheme will allow Member States to grant greenhouse gas emissions permits to operators in relevant sectors of activity. These permits will create an obligation to hold "emission allowances" equal to the actual greenhouse gas emissions of those operators. Member States will be responsible for allocating these allowances, which may be traded between companies if they choose to do so. Emissions trading allows individual companies to emit more than foreseen by an initial allocation on condition that they can find another company that has emitted less than allowed and is willing to sell its "spare allowances". If companies emit above their allowances, sanctions will be imposed on them (for further details see our press release 15101/02).

CUSTOMS UNION

Kyoto Convention

The Council adopted the Decision concerning the accession of the European Community to the Protocol of Amendment to the International Convention on the simplification and harmonisation of Customs procedures (Kyoto Convention) (doc. 6071/03).

The implementation of the principles of the revised Kyoto Convention will yield significant and measurable results by improving the effectiveness and efficiency of Customs Administrations and, therefore, the economic competitiveness of nations; it will also encourage investment and the development of industry and it can increase the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises in international trade.

RESEARCH

Community statistics on science and technology - Public deliberation

The Council adopted the Common position with a view to the adoption of a Decision concerning the production and development of Community statistics on science and technology (doc. 14089/02 + ADD1).

The general objective of this draft European Parliament and Council Decision is to maintain and improve the Community statistical information system on science, technology and innovation in order to support and monitor Community policies.

In the Common position the Council incorporated all the EP amendments except the one on co-operation and consultation with the Helsinki Group; the amendment on co-operation with OECD and other international organisations was accepted in substance, although the exact wording was not followed; the committee procedure was changed to a regulatory procedure.

MARITIME TRANSPORT

Safety rules and standards for passenger ships * - Public deliberation

The Council adopted the Directive amending Council Directive 98/18/EC on safety rules and standards for passenger ships (doc. 3678/02).

Council Directive 98/18/EC of 17 March 1998 introduces a uniform level of safety of life and property on new and existing passenger ships and high-speed passenger craft, when both categories of ships and craft are engaged on domestic voyages, and lays down procedures for negotiation at international level with a view to a harmonisation of the rules for passenger ships engaged on international voyages.

The amending Directive provides in particular for stability requirements and phasing-out of ro-ro passenger ships, as well as safety requirements for persons with reduced mobility.

Specific stability requirements for ro-ro passenger ships * - Public deliberation

The Council adopted the Directive on specific stability requirements for ro-ro passenger ships (doc. 3679/02).

The purpose of this Directive is to lay down a uniform level of specific stability requirements for ro-ro passenger ships, which will improve the survivability of this type of vessel in case of collision damage and provide a high level of safety for the passengers and the crew. This Directive shall apply to all ro-ro passenger ships operating to or from a port of a Member State on a regular service, regardless of their flag, when engaged on international voyages.

Prohibition of organotin compounds on ships * - Public deliberation

The Council adopted the Regulation on the prohibition of organotin compounds on ships (doc 3674/02).

The purpose of this Regulation is to reduce or eliminate adverse effects on the marine environment and human health caused by organotin compounds, which act as active biocides in anti-fouling systems used on ships flying the flag of, or operating under the authority of, a Member State, and on ships, regardless of the flag they fly, sailing to or from ports of the Member States.

It is recalled that on 6 December 2002, the Council reached a political agreement on approving all the amendments of the European Parliament in first reading.

AIR TRANSPORT

"Single European Sky" package * - Public deliberation

The Council adopted the Common positions with a view to the adoption of a

  • Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down the framework for the creation of the Single European Sky ("framework Regulation") (doc. 15851/02);

  • Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the organisation and use of the airspace in the Single European Sky ("airspace Regulation") (doc. 15852/02);

  • Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the provision of air navigation services in the Single European Sky ("service provision Regulation")(doc. 15583/02);

    • Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the interoperability of the European Air Traffic Management network ("interoperability Regulation")(doc. 15854/02).

In the statement to its reason's (doc 15851/02 ADD1), the Council considers that the texts of its common position on the Single European Sky package are appropriate and balanced. With respect to the amendments submitted by the European Parliament in first reading, the Council observes that the large majority of these amendments are, as to their aim and spirit, very similar to the corresponding provisions of the Council's common position. Therefore, the Council holds the opinion that the texts of its common position ensure by and large that the aim sought by these amendments is achieved.

Finally, the Council would like to underline that the agreement that it has reached in respect of civil-military cooperation, which in its present form is acceptable to all relevant parties in the Member States, constitutes the fruit of much and hard work with respect to this very delicate issue.

It is recalled that the Single European Sky initiative envisages to enhance current safety standards and overall efficiency for general air traffic in Europe, to optimise capacity meeting the requirements of all airspace users and to minimise delays. Within this context, the main objectives of the four Regulations are 1) to improve and reinforce safety, 2) to support the concept of a more integrated operating airspace within the context of the common transport policy, 3) to establish common requirements for the safe and efficient provision of air navigation services in the Community, and 4) to achieve interoperability between the different systems, constituents and associated procedures of the European air traffic management network.

Compensation and assistance to air passengers * - Public deliberation

The Council adopted a Common position with a view to the adoption of a Regulation establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to air passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights (doc 15855/02).

The Council made a number of modifications to the proposals of the Commission, both regarding form and substance. As far as the formal modifications are concerned, the Council endeavoured to make the texts simpler and easier to understand. The Council rearranged the text considerably in order notably to enhance their logical disposition.

The Council is of the opinion that the text of its common position on the draft Regulation is appropriate and balanced. The Council observes that a great number of amendments by Parliament has been incorporated in the text of its common position, and considers in general that the common position ensures by and large that the aim sought by the amendments of Parliament is achieved.

EXTERNAL RELATIONS

EU-Ukraine - Preparation of the 6th Co-operation Council

The Council approved the EU's position for the sixth Co-operation Council with Ukraine to be held on 18 March 2003 (cf. Press Release, doc. 7412/03 Presse 75).

EU-Moldova - Preparation of the 5th Co-operation Council

The Council approved the EU's position for the fifth Co-operation Council with Moldova to be held on 18 March 2003 (cf. Press Release, doc. 7432/03 Presse 80).

TRADE POLICY

EU-Vietnam - Prevention of fraud in trade in footwear products

The Council adopted a Decision concerning the conclusion of an Agreement in the form of an Exchange of Letters between the European Community and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam amending the Memorandum of Understanding between the European Community and the government of Vietnam, on the prevention of fraud in trade in footwear products. This Decision seeks to prolong the Memorandum of Understanding for two supplementary years until the end of 2004 (doc. 5330/03).

TRANSPARENCY

Public access to Council documents

The Council adopted a reply to the confirmatory application made by Mr Oliver Henniges (the Danish, Finnish and Swedish delegations voting against).

(doc. 6449/03).

COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES

Appointment

The Representatives of the Governments of the Member States adopted a Decision, following the nomination by the Portuguese Government, appointing Ms Maria Eugénia Martins de Nazaré Ribeiro as a Member of the Court of First Instance of the European Communities, in place of Mr Rui Manuel Moura Ramos, for the remainder of the current term of office, i.e. until 31 August 2004 (doc. 7032/1/03 REV1).

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(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 "http://register.consilium.europa.eu/scripts/utfregisterDir/WebDriver.exe?MIval=advanced&MIlang=EN&fc=REGAISEN&srm=5&ssf=&mt=128&md=100"http://consilium.europa.eu.?Acts 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) Further information can be found on: http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/GDWQ/Chemicals/aldicarbsum.htm http://www.inra.fr/agritox/fiches/224biblio.html and http://www.inra.fr/agritox/fiches/224rpa.htmlFor alternatives to aldicarb as a pesticide : http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/pesticidestax/24.htm

(3)Full information is also available on: http://ec.europa.eu/food/fs/rc/scfcah/ah_aw/rap06_en.pdf

(4) For further information : http://195.68.24.130/UNIPEXINS/FRA/htm/cata_alimentaire/gammes/bartek.htm http://www.foodtv.com/terms/tt-r2/0,4474,3908,00.html


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