Luxembourg, 14 and 15 June 19999000/99 (Presse 190)
2190th Council meeting
- AGRICULTURE -
Luxembourg, 14 and 15 June 1999
President:Mr Karl-Heinz FUNKE
Federal Minister for Food, Agriculture and Forestry of the Federal Republic of Germany
CONTAMINATION BY DIOXIN OF CERTAIN FOODSTUFFS
Council conclusions 4
PRICES FOR AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS 6
ORGANIC FARMING 10
PROTECTION OF LAYING HENS
RESIDUES OF VETERINARY MEDICINAL PRODUCTS IN FOODSTUFFS OF ANIMAL ORIGIN 13
ITEMS APPROVED WITHOUT DEBATE
Barley for malting I
European Economic Area I
Romania and Bulgaria wine quotas I
FRY - sanctions II
Radioactive waste II
International registration of industrial designs V
Committee of the Regions V
For more information, call 285 78 33 or 285 68 08.
The Governments of the Member States and the Commission of the European Communities were represented as follows:
* * *
1. In response to recent events, the Member States are requested to ensure through sufficient controls total compliance with EU law which guarantees the health protection of consumers.
2. The EU has set up comprehensive early-warning systems, which it is obligatory for Member States to apply fully and in good time when a risk arises.
3. About two years ago, the Commission set up a Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) in Ireland as part of DG XXIV, which is responsible for consumer protection. Its task is to ensure through controls in the Member States and third countries that monitoring measures are carried out in accordance with uniform principles of control.
The Commission is requested to check on the uniform and effective implementation of EU early-warning systems and, where appropriate, make proposals for improving them as well as considering the extent to which existing monitoring systems should be extended to cover residues and stepped up.
4. The Commission is requested to report back to the Council during the Finnish Presidency on the progress of installation of the FVO and the extent to which it is fully operational. That report must also look at the question of the need for a general improvement in foodstuffs control including an establishment for foodstuffs controls.
5. The Commission is requested to make rapid progress with work already begun by the Committee for Feedingstuffs on reviewing feedingstuffs law and, where appropriate, submit proposals for amendments in the context of further harmonisation in accordance with strict criteria.
6. The following points should be examined:
effectiveness and adequacy of the current control system;
need to authorise/register compound feedingstuffs producers other than those provided for in Directive 95/69/EC;
improvement in the traceability of feed raw materials and additives used in this sector;
need to extend the list of prohibited ingredients;
need to extend the list of undesirable substances.
There should also be consideration of the extent to which there should be further improvement to the provisions for the labelling of feedingstuffs.
The Council would emphasise the responsibility of feedingstuffs manufacturers for product safety.
7. The Commission is furthermore requested to subject the problems of meat meal and offals and EU legislation on the disposal of carcases to critical review.
8. The Council takes notes of the fact that the Commission will submit a timetable for concluding the necessary work, if possible before the end of the Finnish Presidency.
9. The Council has taken note of a report from the Commission and of the standpoints of the Member States.
PRICES FOR AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS
On the basis of a compromise proposal from the Presidency, the Council reached a political agreement, by a qualified majority, on the Commission's price proposals for 1999/2000. The Italian delegation said it intended to vote against when the legislative texts were formally adopted.
The prices for the various agricultural products are given (in euros) in Annex I.
The Council instructed the Special Committee on Agriculture to finalise, on the basis of the above compromise, the draft Regulations concerning agricultural prices for 1999/2000 with a view to their formal adoption at a future meeting.
The Presidency compromise includes the following points:
* In the wine sector: an amendment is to be made to Regulation No 8... to the effect that the Member States may grant authorisation for new planting as from 1 January 2000 and until the end of the 1999/2000 wine year by using up to 20% of the planting rights newly created which are allocated to them in accordance with Article 6 of the Regulation on the reform of the sector as approved under Agenda 2000. These rights may be used only in compliance with the provisions of the reform and will be deducted from the rights available for the Member States concerned.
* In the flax sector, with regard to the deduction, it was agreed that, if it became necessary to fix again a deduction for promotion purposes in the sector, the level of the aid would be increased by the same amount.
* In the seed sector the current distinction between the three types of English rye-grass will be maintained, on a transitional basis, for the next two marketing years; starting with the 2002/2003 marketing year, a single form of aid will be applicable to English rye-grass seeds.
* In the rice sector, the Council invites the Commission to examine the requests of Greece and Spain concerning regionalisation of the basic areas planted to rice and, if justified, to submit proposals based on the provisions applied to arable-crop arrangements, either in the framework of the review of the common organisation of the market, or in a separate framework.
* With regard to drinking milk, the Council notes that the request made by Finland and Sweden concerning extension of the derogation on the fat content of drinking milk would, from the legal point of view, require a proposal based on Article 149(2) of the Act of Accession in order to extend its validity.
It also notes that this is a derogation arrangement which, as such, can only be of limited duration and cannot go beyond 31 December 2003.
It invites the Commission to discuss on a bilateral basis with Sweden and Finland the specific problems those countries encounter in adopting Community arrangements and to submit a proposal on this matter.
With regard to the distribution of school milk the Ministers for Agriculture take the view that the consumption of milk is of great importance in view of its high nutritional value, particularly for children and young people. They therefore consider appropriate to reflect further on how such consumption can be encouraged in a cost-efficient way taking account of the overall availability of budgetary resources.
* In the tomato sector, to compensate for Portugal's loss of quota for the production of tomato concentrate when apportioning the quotas for the 1999/2000 and 2000/2001 marketing years following the considerable drop in its production during the 1997/1998 marketing year as a result of exceptionally unfavourable weather conditions, Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/96 will be amended as follows:
A new paragraph 3a will be added to Article 6 providing, in respect of Portugal, for an additional quota for fresh tomatoes for the production of concentrate during the 1999/2000 and 2000/2001 marketing years. For the 1999/2000 marketing year, this is equal to 83 468 tonnes. For the 2000/2001 marketing year, it is equal to the difference between the quota calculated for Portugal in accordance with the provisions of the preceding paragraphs and that calculated by replacing the quantity produced during the 1997/1998 marketing year with 884 592 tonnes. The overall quota for fresh tomatoes referred to in paragraph 1 and the quota for tomato concentrate referred to in the first indent of the second subparagraph of paragraph 2 are increased, for these two marketing years, by the additional quantity allocated to Portugal.
* Regarding pigmeat, the Council requests the Commission to continue and elaborate on the ideas put forward by the Management Committee for controlling pigmeat production and, if necessary, to submit appropriate proposals.
MATTERS FALLING WITHIN THE COMPETENCE OF THE COMMISSION:
The Commission takes note of the requests made by certain Member States in the context of the discussion on the 1999/2000 price proposals which fall within the Commission's management competence. The requests are as follows:
1. Derogations concerning the quality criteria for intervention for cereals, for 1999/2000:
15% moisture instead of 14,5% for all cereals except maize and sorghum, in those Member States that request it;
criterion for shrivelled grains: use of a 2,0 mm sieve instead of a 2,2 mm one for barley, on condition that the specific weight is at least 64 kg/hl, in Sweden and Finland;
suspension of the reduction applied to barley where the specific weight is between 62 and 64 kg/hl (request made by Spain).
2. Derogation from the general rule for plots frozen under the aid arrangements for arable crops, with the aim of making certain criteria more flexible, such as the minimum width of 20 metres, in exchange for environmental commitments on the part of the producer and specific monitoring arrangements (request made by the United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden and France).
3. Examination of the request made by Austria concerning the adjustment, on the basis of production areas, of the amount of aid set for fibre flax, in order to determine whether the conditions required for amending the Annex to Regulation No 1784/93 (fixing the coefficients for adjusting the aid) are fulfilled.
4. Examination of the situation regarding the rearing of goats in mountainous areas in Austria and comparability with other Member States, in order to determine whether the eligibility criteria for the goat premium where production is meat-oriented are fulfilled.
The Commission intends to submit proposals relating to requests 1 and 2. The Commission also gives assurances that it will examine requests 3 and 4 as soon as possible, on the basis of the supporting evidence, in the appropriate context, with a view to finding suitable solutions if the requests are well-founded.
In the fruit and vegetables sector, with particular reference to Article 11 of Regulation (EC) No 2200/96, the Commission undertakes to consider how the function of member of the Executive Board with voting rights can be made accessible to persons other than producers in this sector, on the understanding that producers must retain full control of the organisation.
On the basis of a compromise proposal from the Presidency, the Council reached a unanimous political agreement on an amendment supplementing Regulation (EEC) No 2092/91 on organic production of agricultural products and indications referring thereto on agricultural products and foodstuffs to include livestock production.
The amendment will come into force 12 months after its publication in the Official Journal of the European Communities, except for the ban on using genetically modified organisms, which will take effect immediately. It lays down harmonised rules in this sector in the light of the increasing interest from both producers and consumers. It aims to eliminate the sources of uncertainty for existing producers and for those taking up such activities, as well as problems which may hamper the free movement of products.
Livestock production must contribute to the equilibrium of agricultural production systems by providing for the nutrient requirements of crops and by improving the soil's organic matter. Such production can thus help establish and maintain soil-plant, plant-animal and animal-soil interdependence.
When the agreement was reached, the Belgian, Greek and Portuguese delegations endorsed the statement by the French delegation set out in Annex II.
PROTECTION OF LAYING HENS
On the basis of a compromise proposal from the Presidency, which was endorsed by the Commission, the Council reached a political agreement, by a qualified majority, on a proposal for a Council Directive laying down minimum standards for the protection of laying hens kept in various systems of rearing.
The text lays down minimum Community standards but gives each Member State the opportunity of introducing more stringent standards in its own territory. Non-enriched cages, which are allowed under current legislation, will be banned from 1 January 2012 (i.e. after the 10-year transitional period from 1 January 2002 for incorporating the Directive into national law). As from 1 January 2003, it will be forbidden to build such cages or bring them into service for the first time and the minimum area for existing non-enriched cages will be increased from 450 to 550 cm2 per hen.
From 1 January 2002 it will be possible for newly created or converted rearing systems to apply the provisions on enriched cages (minimum area per hen of 750 cm2 + litter + perches and nests) or the "alternative system" (9 hens per m2 of usable area).
Minimum standards are also laid down for management and other factors affecting the hens' environment so as to allow in all cases for nesting, dust bathing and perching. There is an exemption for establishments with less than 350 laying hens and for establishments rearing breeding laying hens. As a derogation, beak trimming is authorised on chickens less than ten days old under certain conditions.
The compromise provides for establishments covered by the Directive to be registered by the competent authority and given a distinguishing number which will be the medium for tracing eggs placed on the market for human consumption.
The Council and the Commission, stressing the need to ensure equal conditions of competition between European Union and third-country producers, considered that international acknowledgement of animal-welfare rules must be one of the key points of the negotiating brief for the WTO Millennium Round.
held an exchange of views on the Commission communication on bananas which allowed the various Member States to state their positions on the options identified by the Commission in order to resolve the dispute over bananas in a manner compliant with WTO rules;
was informed by the Commission of the progress of talks under way with the various partners concerned;
considered that an adjustment of Community rules to those of the WTO was necessary, as far as possible within the framework of a negotiated solution agreed to by all the parties concerned. In this respect, the interests of producers in the Community and in the ACP States should be taken into account so that a lasting solution could be achieved;
with this in mind, encouraged the Commission to continue its talks with the parties concerned and to submit to the Council, as soon as possible and in the light of the outcome of these talks and of ongoing discussions within the Council, formal proposals on the adaptation of the arrangements for bananas.
RESIDUES OF VETERINARY MEDICINAL PRODUCTS IN FOODSTUFFS OF ANIMAL ORIGIN
The Council adopted an amendment to Regulation (EEC) No 2377/90 laying down a Community procedure for the establishment of maximum residue limits of veterinary medicinal products in foodstuffs of animal origin. In the light of changes in the regulatory environment the amendment seeks to confer on the Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products the task of dealing with applications for the establishment, amendment and extension of maximum residue limits.
The Council emphasised the urgent need to adopt other provisions introducing scientific and financial support for the studies to be made by the Agency on medicinal products for which there was little commercial demand and authorising the administration to equidae and minor species of certain veterinary medicinal products currently permitted for humans or for other species. The Council asked the Commission to submit proposals and welcomed its expressed willingness to do so.
Prices in euros for the various agricultural products
Statement by France on organic farming - livestock production
France can go along with a majority of delegations on the Presidency's compromise. The text has been improved following the latest SCA and Council meetings and it is important that European rules should be extended to cover livestock production.
Without wishing to impede the adoption of these rules, the French Government takes the view that they are still insufficient to enable European organic farming, especially in the livestock production sector, to achieve a level of quality that distinguishes it from conventional farming. The main reasons for this are the number of derogations, which remains high, and the excessive length of the derogation periods. It hopes that the Member States' supervisory authorities and bodies will preserve the credibility of organic farming by making only limited use of these derogations.
The Presidency's compromise is a first step towards a qualitative improvement in the standards for European organic farming. The French Government calls for this process to continue, particularly in the light of the assessments which the Commission will have to make at the various stages envisaged in the Regulation.
____________________ITEMS APPROVED WITHOUT DEBATE
Barley for malting
With the French delegation voting against and the Italian delegation abstaining, the Council adopted by a qualified majority a Regulation opening a Community tariff quota for barley for malting falling within CN code 1003 00.
An annual tariff quota of 50 000 tonnes is opened for 1999 and 2000 for high graded barley intended for the production of malt to be used for the manufacture of certain beer aged in vats containing beechwood. The common customs tariff duty applicable to the quota is 50% of the full rate of duty in force, without the abatement applied on imports of barley for malting, on the day of import.
European Economic Area
The Council approved on behalf of the European Union a draft Decision of the EEA Joint Committee amending Protocol 31 to the EEA Agreement in order to update cooperation in the field of small and medium-sized undertakings. The Decision establishes a framework for cooperation concerning the participation of the EEA-EFTA States in Community measures in this field.
Romania and Bulgaria - wine quotas
The Council adopted two Regulations approving the extension for one year - until 31 December 1999 - of the two Agreements concluded with Romania and Bulgaria respectively on the reciprocal establishment of tariff quotas for certain wines, pending completion of the negotiations on an Additional Protocol to the Europe Agreements intended to replace the 1993 Wine Agreements and to extend their scope to cover spirits.
The Regulations also amend accordingly the internal provisions for implementing the Wine Agreements (adjustment of Regulation No 933/95).
The Council adopted the Regulation implementing its Common Position of 10 May 1999 on additional sanctions against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, as concerns the extension of the scope of the EU's freeze of funds and ban on new investment.
In particular, this Regulations extends :
(a) the existing freeze on funds held abroad by the FRY and Serbian governments so as to cover individuals associated with President Milosevic and companies controlled by or acting on behalf of the FRY and Serbian governments;
(b) and the existing prohibition on new investment in Serbia so as to cover the prohibition on private-sector export finance to the governments of the FRY and Serbia, as well as to companies, institutions, undertakings or entities owned or controlled by them, and to any person acting on their behalf.
To that end the Regulation lists in two annexes persons deemed to be acting or purporting to act on behalf of the governments of the FRY or Serbia (identical to the list of around 300 persons subject to the EU's visa ban), as well as companies, undertakings, institutions or entities owned or controlled by the Governments of the FRY or Serbia (not located in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia).
The Regulation empowers the Commission to amend these annexed lists, as well as to authorise under certain conditions derogations to the freeze of funds or the ban on new investment, with the assistance of a committee composed of the representatives of the Member States.
The Council adopted conclusions on the present situation and prospects for radioactive waste management in the Community:
recalls the Council Resolution of 19 December 1994 on radioactive waste management (2) and the Community Action Plan in the field of radioactive waste for 1993 to 1999 annexed to the Council Resolution of 15 June 1992 (3);
takes note with interest of the Communication and fourth report from the Commission on the present situation and prospects for radioactive waste management in the European Union covering the situation until the end of 1997;
recalls that all Member States have to deal with the issue of radioactive waste and notes with satisfaction that the volume of radioactive waste generated in the Community has declined considerably; it encourages Member States to continue their efforts to reduce the quantities and activity of wastes arising from all nuclear applications;
is aware of the crucial importance of effective systems of sound management and safe storage of nuclear waste in the Community and therefore is of the view that Member States should continue their activities concerning geological disposal of radioactive waste and other options for its long-term management;
reaffirms the importance of the independence of regulatory authorities and of an efficient, sustained and transparent exchange of information between operators and regulators on the development of disposal concepts and facilities;
insists on the need to further develop a common Community approach to the identification, classification, storage and eventual clearance from regulatory control of those quantities of declared radioactive materials which exhibit very low levels of residual radioactivity and may even be totally free of man-induced radioactivity, without prejudice to the possibility for Member States to develop this in specific situations, in line with the provisions of Council Directive 96/29/Euratom of 13 May 1996 laying down basic safety standards for the protection of the health of workers and the general public against the dangers arising from ionizing radiation;
stresses the need to develop common views to address the problems related to radioactive scrap metals and proper management of spent radioactive sealed sources;
reaffirms the principle of responsibility of each Member State for ensuring that the radioactive waste produced on its territory is properly managed and stored and notes that some Member States have legislation which prohibits final disposal of nuclear waste from other States; it considers that there is merit in the strategic long-term objective of self-sufficiency of the Community and, where mutually agreed, cooperation between Member States in matters of radioactive waste disposal;
recalls successful Community research and development activities in the field of management and disposal of radioactive waste and relevant research priorities under the Euratom research and training programme in the field of nuclear energy (1998 to 2002) (4) and insists on the need for Member States to continue cooperation in research and development work in this field with the aim of improving data, models and concepts related to management and long-term safety of disposal of long-lived waste;
stresses the importance of ensuring transparency, at the level of governments, regulators, operators and the public, of waste management operations throughout the Community with the view to a better understanding of the technical, social, environmental and ethical issues involved;
underlines the desirability of timely ratification by Member States of the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management and the urgency of early implementation of its provisions, in particular with respect to third countries; takes note of the preparation by the Commission of a proposal for Community accession to this Convention;
suggests that the Commission, between its main reports and as required, presents interim reports on the situation, based on information provided by Member States, to cover important developments in Member States and on the international level; for the future consideration should be given to synchronising the reporting cycle with that of the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management;
looks forward to the presentation by the Commission of a report concerning the situation of radioactive waste management in the applicant countries to the Community;
invites the Commission to present in due course its proposal for a new Community Action Plan in the field of radioactive waste taking into account Community competence in this field."
International registration of industrial designs
The Council authorised the Commission to open negotiations to ensure participation by the Community in the Diplomatic Conference to be held in Geneva from 16 June to 6 July 1999, under the auspices of the World International Property Organisation (WIPO), for the adoption of a new act of the Hague Agreement concerning the international registration of industrial designs.
International deposit produces the same effects in all Contracting States designated by the depositor, as if all the deposition formalities had been completed in accordance with the national law of those States. The new act seeks to amend the current Hague system to allow accession to the Agreement by a greater number of States and by international organisations. The Community's aim is the insertion in the Agreement of provisions that will enable it to become a Contracting Party.
Committee of the Regions
The Council adopted Decisions appointing
Mr I.W. OPSTELTEN a member of the Committee of the Regions in place of Mr A. PEPER;
Ms M.J. HAVEMAN an alternate member of the Committee of the Regions in place of Ms A.E. VERSTAND-BOGAERT;
Mr Joaquim LLIMONA i BALCELLS an alternate member of the Committee of the Regions in place of Mr J. VALLVÉ i RIBERA,
for the remainder of the current term of office, which runs until 25 January 2002.
(1) R I , R II , and A I expressed in EUR/%vol/hl; R III, A II and A III expressed in EUR/hl.
(2)OJ C 379, 31.12.1994, p. 1.
(3)OJ C 158, 26.6.1992, p. 3.
(4)OJ L 64, 12.3.1999, p. 142.