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2098th Council meeting AGRICULTURE Brussels, 25/26 May 1998

European Council - PRES/98/158   03/06/1998

Other available languages: FR DE DA ES NL IT SV PT FI EL

2098th Council meeting

– AGRICULTURE –

Brussels, 25/26 May 1998

President: Dr Jack CUNNINGHAM

 Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food of the United Kingdom

C O N T E N T S

PARTICIPANTS  3

ITEMS DISCUSSED

AGENDA 2000  4

REFORM OF THE OLIVE OIL SECTOR  6

CANADA  7

LABELLING OF CERTAIN FOODSTUFFS PRODUCED FROM GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISMS  7

ITEMS ADOPTED WITHOUT DISCUSSION

Agriculture

Tariff quota for barley  I

Poultry meat  I

Forestry information system  I

Lisbon Conference on Forest Protection  II

Hops  II

Trade in processed agricultural products  II

International Agreement on Olive oil and table olives  II

Transport

Training of seafarers  III

Statistics on the carriage of goods by road  III

In the case of legislative acts, votes against or abstentions are indicated. Decisions containing statements which the Council has decided to release to the public are indicated by asterisks; the statements in question may be obtained from the Press Office.

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

Belgium

Mr Karel PINXTEN

Minister for Agriculture and Small and Medium-Sized Businesses

Denmark

Mr Henrik DAM KRISTENSEN

Mr Poul OTTOSEN

Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries

State Secretary, Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries

Germany

Mr Jochen BORCHERT

Mr Franz-Josef FEITER

Minister for Food, Agriculture and Forestry

State Secretary, Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Forestry

Greece

Mr Stephanos TZOUMAKAS

Minister for Agriculture

Spain

Ms Loyola DE PALACIO DEL VALLE-LERSUNDI

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food

France

Mr Louis LE PENSEC

Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries

Ireland

Mr Joe WALSH

Minister for Agriculture and Food

Italy

Mr Michele PINTO

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry

Luxembourg

Mr Fernand BODEN

Minister for Agriculture, Viticulture and Rural Development

Netherlands

Mr Jozias VAN AARTSEN

Minister for Agriculture, Nature Management and Fisheries

Austria

Mr Wilhelm MOLTERER

Federal Minister for Agriculture and Forestry

Portugal

Mr Fernando GOMES da SILVA

Minister for Agriculture, Rural Development

Finland

Mr Kalevi HEMILÄ

Minister for Agriculture

Sweden

Ms Annika ÅHNBERG

Ms Madeleine EMMERVALL

Minister for Agriculture

State Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture

United Kingdom

Dr Jack CUNNINGHAM

Lord DONOUGHUE

Lord SEWEL

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food

Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (Agriculture, Environment and Fisheries)

Commission

Mr Franz FISCHLER

Member

AGENDA 2000

The Council has adopted the following conclusions :

  • "1. The Agriculture Council has held an intensive initial examination of the Commission's proposals for reform of the Common Agricultural Policy which were transmitted to it on 18 March 1998 in accordance with the outcome of the November 1997 Agriculture Council and the conclusions of the Luxembourg European Council. The Council acknowledges the need to reach agreement on the necessary reforms, including also on mediterranean products, so that a clear direction can be given to European agriculture in accordance with those conclusions. It recognises the importance of CAP reform to the overall Agenda 2000 initiative, including the further enlargement of the EU, and to the forthcoming agricultural negotiations within the World Trade Organisation. The Council therefore commits itself to continuing negotiations on the basis initiated at its meeting on 31 March 1998.
  • 2. The Council's objective is to agree the necessary reforms which effectively address the current and prospective challenges facing the CAP, taking account of the concerns of consumers, the environment and of the dependence of particular Member States or regions on specific sectors or types of production. In pursuit of the principle of non discrimination between producers, the Council reaffirms the need, endorsed by the European Council, to strike a fair balance between production sectors, producers and regions. As endorsed by the European Council in Luxembourg following the Agriculture Council's outcome of November 1997, these will promote a European model of agriculture which must, as an economic sector, be versatile, sustainable, competitive and spread throughout European territory, including regions with specific problems. The Council also sets itself the objective of simplifying the CAP and further decentralising the implementation of measures laid down at Community level, while avoiding renationalisation of the CAP and distortion of competition.
  • 3. The Council, taking account of its November 1997 outcome, will proceed to the next stage of the negotiation, recognising that the following key issues, inter alia, have emerged as central to its work:
    •  
    •  -the necessity and the appropriate extent and timescale for adjustment of support prices;
    •  
    • - the appropriate nature of compensation for support price cuts;
    •  
    • - the rules according to which Member State discretion (for example in modulating payments) should be exercised with regard to agricultural support ;
    •  
    • - the role of production controls within the reformed CAP, for example milk quotas;
    •  
    •  -the promotion of the development of the rural economy and the rural environment, including multifunctional agriculture, the degree of subsidiarity and simplification appropriate to these measures, and the extent of the mechanisms and resources required ;
    • -the appropriate balance of support between production sectors, producers and regions.
    •  
  • 4. The Council will continue intensive negotiations within this framework, with the objective of achieving a balanced outcome consistent with other elements of the Agenda 2000 process, and within the financial arrangements governing the CAP, as defined by the Luxembourg European Council. It instructs the Special Committee for Agriculture (and COREPER in respect of the proposed Finance Regulation), to continue examination of the Commission's proposals, as well as the positions of the Member States, and to inform the Council of progress at its meeting in July."

REFORM OF THE OLIVE OIL SECTOR

The Council :

  • took note of the SCA's progress report regarding the work carried out on specific elements of the Commission's proposal concerning the reform of the olive oil sector, the solution of which might contribute to the achievement of a global agreement;
  • noted the observations made by Member States in this regard;
  • was informed that the Agricultural Committee of the European Parliament has voted in favour of the urgent procedure requested by the Council and therefore that the opinion of the European Parliament might be available before the June Council;
  • welcomed the progress made so far and therefore instructed the SCA to pursue the examination of this proposal in the light of the discussion in the Council and to report back to it at the June session.

It is recalled that the Commission has proposed a transitional regime which will apply from 1 November 1998 to 31 October 2001. The final regime, to be proposed by the Commission once reliable data on the number of trees and cultivated areas will become available, will apply from 1 November 2001 onwards.

Proposals for the period 1998/2001 include :

  • granting of aid only to oil from groves existing on 1 May 1998, with some few exception. This rule will effectively apply from 1 November 2001;
  • increase of the maximum guaranteed quantity (MGQ) to take account of the development of consumption. The present MGQ of 1,350,000 tonnes will be increased by 15.7 % to 1,562,400 tonnes. Furthermore, it is proposed to divide the MGQ into National Guaranteed Quantities (NGQ);
  • abolition of the scheme of aid for small producers and of consumption aid, the savings being used to increase the MGQ;
  • replacement of the intervention buying-in arrangements by a more flexible system of private storage.

CANADA

The Council:

  • heard a presentation from the Commission of the proposal on the conclusion of a veterinary agreement with Canada;
  • took note of the preliminary general observations expressed by some delegations;
  • bearing in mind the importance of this agreement, instructed Coreper urgently to examine this proposal and to report back to Council at the June session with a view, if possible, to reaching a conclusion on this issue.

LABELLING OF CERTAIN FOODSTUFFS PRODUCED FROM GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISMS*

On the basis of a modified Commission proposal which takes account of the outcome of the Internal Market Council on the 20 May 1998 (see Press Release n 8528/98), the Council approved by qualified majority a Regulation concerning the compulsory indication on the labelling of certain foodstuffs produced from genetically modified organisms of particulars other than those provided for in Directive 79/112/EEC. The Danish, Italian and Swedish delegations voted against.

The text, submitted to the Council on 26 February 1998 in the context of a type III(a) committee procedure, deals with the specific labelling requirements for foodstuffs and food ingredients produced from genetically modified soya or maize which have been placed on the market. Its aim is to ensure that the final consumer is clearly informed through labelling when genetically modified soya or maize are contained in foods and food ingredients.

OTHER DECISIONS

Adopted without discussion.

Tariff quota for barley

The Council has approved by qualified majority, the French delegation voting against, a Regulation opening a Community tariff quota for barley for malting falling within CN code 1003 00.

The tariff quota will be of 50 000 tonnes/year for 1997 and 1998 and is intended for high grade barley for the production of malt to be used in the manufacture of certain beers aged in beechwood tanks. The common customs tariff duty applicable to the quota shall be 50% of the full rate of duty in force, without the abatement applied on imports of barley for malting, on the day of import.

Poultry meat

The Council has approved an amendment to Regulation (EC) n° 1906/90 on certain marketing standards for poultry meat.

Given the fact that poultry meat is being increasingly marketed in the form of pieces of poultry, the amendment extends the checking of the water content absorbed during preparation of meat, up to now limited to carcases only, to pieces of poultry as well.

Forestry information system

The Council has approved an amendment to Regulation (EEC) n° 1615/89 establishing a European Forestry Information and Communication System (EFICS).

The amendment renews for a further five-year period (1998-2002) the action provided for in the Regulation, already extended once until 31 December 1997.

In order to cover new requirements for EFICS, the amendment clarifies that the objective of EFICS is to collect, coordinate, standardize, process and disseminate information concerning the forestry sector and its development in view of :

  • -improving consideration of the interests of the forestry sector in international discussions
  • -facilitating implementation of Member State's policies and of measures in favour of the forestry sector under existing Community policies
  • -permit access by the general public to information on the European forestry sector.

The financial reference amount for implementing EFICS shall be unchanged, i.e. ECU 3 900 000 for the period 1989-2002.

Lisbon Conference on Forest Protection

The Council has approved the arrangements for the European Community's participation in the Third Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe, to be held in Lisbon on 2-4 June 1998.

The Lisbon conference is aimed in particular at implementing the undertakings given at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992 stressing the social and economic importance of a sustainable management of the European forests on the lines of the previous pan-European Conferences held in Strasbourg in 1990 and in Helsinki in 1993.

Hops

The Council has adopted a Regulation introducing special temporary measures for hops. These measures are aimed at overcoming the current market difficulties. They will be optional, valid for a five year period, and involve :

  • -the inclusion of "temporary resting" and "grubbing up" in the list of special measures that may be taken at producer group level for the purpose of adjusting production to market requirements ;
  • -the payment by producer groups of a financial contribution in order partly to offset the actual cost of applying the measures and the loss of income ;
  • -the continued payment of the aid - ECU 480/hectare - for a maximum period of 5 years for areas rested or grubbed up, subject to certain requirements being observed.

Trade in processed agricultural products*

The Council has approved an amendment to Regulation (EC) n° 3448/93 laying down the trade arrangements applicable to certain goods resulting from the processing of agricultural products.

The amendment was necessary in order to take account of the new arrangements accepted by the Community in the Agreement on Agriculture concluded in the framework of the Uruguay Round negotiations.

International Agreement on Olive oil and table olives

The Council, in view of the forthcoming meeting of the International Olive Oil Council on 1-5 June 1998, has agreed that the Commission, on behalf of the European Community, will vote in favour of an extension of the 1986 International Agreement on Olive Oil and Table Olives, as amended and renewed in 1993 for a further two year period from 1 January 1999 until 31 December 2000.

TRANSPORT

Statistics on the carriage of goods by road*

The Council adopted by qualified majority,with the German delegation abstaining, the Regulation on statistical returns in respect of the carriage of goods by road.

The statistical data currently available under Council Directive 78/546/EEC of 12 June 1978 on statistical returns in respect of carriage of goods by road as part of regional statistics are insufficient for the framing, monitoring, control and evaluation of the common transport policy. The Regulation replaces the system laid down in the Directive so as to ensure the description of the origin and regional destination of intra-Community transport on the same bases as national transport, and to provide a link between the carriage of goods and vehicle journeys by measuring the degree of utilization of vehicles carrying out this transport. The Regulation also provides for the monitoring of road cabotage. Member States will send suitable statistics to Eurostat - the Commission department responsible for producing Community statistics - which will then disseminate them to users.

Training of seafarers*

The Council adopted by unanimity an amendment to Directive 94/58/EC on the minimum level of training of seafarers.

The purpose of this Directive is

  • -  to adapt Directive 94/58/EC to the protocol to the 1978 International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW Convention) and to the STCW code, adopted by the IMO (International Maritime Organisation) Conference in 1995.
  • The STCW Protocol and Code i.a. contain revised provisions on the issue of certificates, non-discrimination in near coastal voyages, quality standards for training programmes and institutes, medical standards, the responsibility of shipping companies for manning their ships with duly certified crew, minimum rest
  • periods for watchkeeping personnel, port State control, and training requirements for the crew, based on 'the functional approach'
  • -to include in the Directive a set of common criteria for the recognition of types of certificates issued by institutes or administrations of third countries.

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