Brussels, 29 September 2003
12529/03 (Presse 270)
2528th Council meeting Agriculture and fisheries Brussels, 29 September 2003
coexistence of genetically modified crops with conventional and organic farming 5
COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION REFORM OF THE TOBACCO, OLIVE OIL, COTTON AND SUGAR SECTORS (AND DANISH REQUEST UNDER "OTHER BUSINESS") 6
SPANISH NATIONAL AID NUTS 6
ITEMS APPROVED WITHOUT DEBATE
The Governments of the Member States and the European Commission were represented as follows:
coexistence of genetically modified crops with conventional and organic farming
The Council took note of the presentation by the Commission of its Recommendation and held a substantive political discussion on the main concerns relating to the coexistence of genetically modified crops with conventional and organic farming, on the basis of a questionnaire prepared by the Presidency. Delegations generally welcomed this recommendation as a first major step towards applying measures that would ensure such coexistence within the Community on the basis of the principle of subsidiarity and confirmed that such measures should be developed and applied by the Member States in line with the recent Decision of the Council and of the European Parliament to amend Directive 2001/18/EC. In this connection, it should be noted that the European Commission undertook to submit a report on the experience gained in the Member States in the two years following the publication of the Recommendation including, if appropriate, an assessment of all possible and necessary steps to take. The Council's positions on the questionnaire submitted to the delegations by the Presidency (12922/03) may be summarised as follows :
1) As regards GMO-free zones, the Member States noted the possibility of considering regional measures in accordance with the principles of proportionality and specificity. Several delegations stated that measures for guaranteeing coexistence should take account of the different plant varieties and regional peculiarities. A number of delegations asked for a definition of GMO-free zones.
2) A number of delegations requested the rapid adoption of tolerance thresholds for the adventitious presence of GMOs in seeds, while others considered it unnecessary in principle to lay down thresholds that were different from those covered by the current rules.
3) A number of delegations wondered about the need for a specific tolerance threshold for the adventitious presence of GMOs in organic agriculture and wanted this issue to be discussed in detail.
4) A large number of delegations wanted to examine whether it would be possible to lay down Community-level rules on liability in the event of contamination of conventional and organic crops by genetically modified crops. They referred in particular to the potential risks of distortions of competition between Member States.
COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION REFORM OF THE TOBACCO, OLIVE OIL, COTTON AND SUGAR SECTORS (AND DANISH REQUEST UNDER "OTHER BUSINESS")
The Council took note of the presentation by Commissioner Fischler of the communication (12965/03) from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament entitled "Accomplishing a sustainable agricultural model for Europe through the reformed CAP the tobacco, olive oil, cotton and sugar sectors", and of the Spanish, Greek and Danish delegations' comments. In this connection and linked to the item under "Other business", the Council took note of the Danish delegation's memorandum on the sugar sector (12226/03).
The Council asked the Special Committee on Agriculture to start discussions forthwith to examine the various sectors covered by the communication and to submit its reports as soon as possible.
SPANISH NATIONAL AID NUTS
The Council agreed to postpone until its meeting on 13 October the discussion on adoption of the Spanish government's application to grant temporary national aid for nuts for 2003.
ITEMS APPROVED WITHOUT DEBATE
Adoption of the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) *
Adoption of the reform of the CAP (11236/1/03, 11182/03, 11186/03, 11187/03, 11188/03, 11189/03, 11190/03, 12977/03 + ADD 1 and ADD 2).
The Council formally adopted the seven Regulations on reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, without debate and by a qualified majority, the Portuguese delegation voting against the "horizontal" Regulation and the Regulation establishing a levy in the milk and milk products sector. Adoption follows on from the political agreement reached on 26 June 2003 (10272/03) following the meeting of the Council (Agriculture and Fisheries). Statements by the Council, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Austria, Finland, the United Kingdom, Portugal (giving reasons for voting against) and the Commission are appended to the legal texts adopted. The Danish delegation, supported by the Swedish delegation, also recorded in a statement its opposition to point V of 12977/03 ADD 1. The texts are adopted in accordance with the consultation procedure and following the Opinion of the European Parliament as delivered at its plenary part-session from 2 to 5 June 2003.
On 23 January 2003 the Commission submitted to the Council seven proposals for Regulations on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (5586/03), which refer to :
common rules for direct support schemes under the Common Agricultural Policy and support schemes for producers of certain crops (horizontal Regulation)
the market in cereals
the market in rice
the market in dried fodder
the market in milk and milk products
a levy in the milk and milk products sector.
This reform of the CAP, four years after the Agenda 2000 reform which continued the trend begun in 1992 of progressive reduction of budgetary financing (price support) and increasing financial compensation in the form of direct aid to producers, is the most radical change since the foundation of the CAP in 1958. Initially based on principles (Articles 32 to 38 of the Treaty) intended to ensure self-sufficiency in food for the European Community by increasing agricultural productivity, to guarantee a high income to farmers, to stabilise markets and to provide agricultural products at a
reasonable price to consumers, the reformed CAP henceforth introduces a new key element, a pillar of the reform, which is the partial decoupling of production-related aid, based on a reference period (2000-2002); it now makes payment of such aid conditional on compliance with rules on the environment, animal welfare, hygiene standards and preservation of the countryside.
A single farm payment is accordingly introduced with effect from 1 January 2005, with the option of transitionally maintaining fully coupled aid until 31 December 2006. It develops the second pillar of the CAP relating to rural development through increases in horizontal aid, separate from production activity. Intervention prices (e.g. in the durum wheat sector, the rice sector) and Community support (e.g. in the nuts sector) are reduced, with partial compensation provided for these reductions or with incentives to quality production. Part of Community aid nevertheless remains coupled to production, in particular in the cereals sector, oilseeds and protein crops (25% coupled), potato starch (60% of aid), durum wheat (40% of supplementary aid per hectare) and the beef and veal sector (several options are proposed).
Thus, the reform should allow the Community to ensure greater compliance with its international commitments vis-à-vis the World Trade Organisation, in particular by transferring almost all production-related aid, which produces a distorting effect on production and trade ("orange" and "blue" boxes in WTO terminology) to "green box" aid with no or, at most, minimal distorting effects. The green box must be financed from public funds (not by imposing higher prices on consumers) and must not involve price support.
The financial framework of the CAP was set at the European Council on 24 and 25 October 2002. The changes which took place between the political agreement in June and formal adoption relate mainly to the milk sector, with regard to which the Commission states that, although the limit of 70 000 tonnes for butter intervention would be reached during the intervention period, i.e. between 1 March and 31 August 2004, intervention would continue. Concerning the milk levy applied in cases of exceeding the national reference amount, it is expected that the Member States will repay 99% of the amount due to the Community (EAGGF) instead of 99,5%. With regard to the horizontal Regulation, the impossibility of making fruit and vegetable producers eligible for the decoupled payment is tempered by a derogation taking account of production during the reference period.
WINE oenological processes
The Council has unanimously adopted the Regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 527/2003 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 Regulation (EC) No 1493/1999 (12597/03, 12598/03).
The Regulation allows the extension for one year, until 30 September 2004, of the derogation granted until 30 September 2003 for imports of wines produced in Argentina by oenological processes not authorised within the Community. This relates in particular to the use by Argentina of malic acid (from the Latin "malum" = apple), an alcoholic acid (synthetic or natural) found in apples and acid fruits. Fermentation of this kind enables a sweet and fruity flavour to be imparted to the wine.
Agricultural statistics * Public deliberation
The Council adopted, by a qualified majority with the German delegation abstaining, the Decision on the continued application of areal surveys and remote-sensing techniques to the agricultural statistics for 2004-2007 (12543/03 + ADD 1, PE-CONS 3661/03). The Decision relates to two scientific projects currently running in the context of agricultural statistics. The two programmes are MARS (monitoring agriculture with remote sensing), which allows meteorological data from satellite pictures to be used to analyse and forecast the harvesting of the main crops grown in Europe, and LUCAS (land use cover area frame statistical survey), which makes statistical studies based on visual observation of sampling points. The EP adopted a report without amendments under its codecision procedure. A Commission statement is appended to the act adopted by the codecision procedure, in which the Commission undertakes to submit to the Member States, by the end of 2005, a report on the implementation of the activities since the Decision entered into force.
EEC/Republic of Guinea
The Council unanimously adopted the Regulation on the conclusion of the Agreement setting out the fishing opportunities and the financial contribution provided for between the European Economic Community and the Government of the Republic of Guinea on fishing off the Guinean coast for the period 1 January 2003 to 31 December 2003 (8246/03, 8237/03). This Agreement, which is based on Article 300 of the Treaty, provides for fishing opportunities for trawlers and tuna boats allocated between Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal and France.
Zoonoses * public deliberation
The Council unanimously approved the European Parliament's second-reading amendments to the Regulation on the control of salmonella and other food-borne zoonotic agents (8968/03, 11796/03 + ADD 1 + ADD 2). A common position on the proposal for a Regulation was adopted on 20 February 2003 (6160/03).
Foot-and-mouth disease *
The Council, acting unanimously, formally adopted the Directive on Community measures for the control of foot-and-mouth disease and amending Council Directive 92/46/EEC (12430/03 + ADD 1, 9474/2/03 REV 2). Unanimous political agreement was reached on 12 June 2003 (for more details see 10272/03).
Review of pharmaceutical legislation * public deliberation
(10949/03 +ADD 1, 10950/03 + ADD 1, 10951/03 + ADD 1)
By a qualified majority, with the Belgian and Netherlands delegations voting against, and the German delegation abstaining, the Council adopted the common position with a view to adoption of the Regulation laying down Community procedures for the authorisation and supervision of medicinal products for human and veterinary use and establishing a European Medicines Agency.
By a qualified majority, the Belgian and Netherlands delegations voting against, the Council adopted the common position with a view to the adoption of the Directive amending Directive 2001/83/EC on the Community code relating to medicinal products for human use.
The Council unanimously adopted the common position amending Directive 2001/82/EC on the Community code relating to veterinary medicinal products.
Drugs precursors public deliberation
The Council adopted its common position on the proposal for a Regulation harmonising control and surveillance measures for certain substances sometimes used in illegal manufacturing of drugs and psychotropic substances (11228/1/03 REV 1).
The aim of this proposal is to convert Directive 92/109/EEC into a Regulation in order to simplify legislation and so facilitate legal trade in precursors within the internal market, at the same time preventing diversion of chemical substances to the manufacture of illegal drugs.
Procedures for the award of public contracts public deliberation
The Council decided to reject the amendments adopted by the European Parliament at second reading concerning the proposal for a Directive on the coordination of procedures for the award of public works contracts, public supply contracts and public service contracts, as well as those concerning the proposal for a Directive coordinating procurement procedures in the water, energy and transport sectors (12816/03).
Under the codecision procedure, conciliation between the Council and the Parliament will be initiated on 7 October 2003.
Packaging public deliberation
The Council decided to reject the amendments adopted by the European Parliament at second reading concerning the proposal for a Directive amending Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste (12873/03).
Under the codecision procedure, conciliation between the Council and the Parliament will be initiated shortly.
(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.