Comments by France on genetic resources in agriculture

March 8, 2002

Brussels, 7 March 2002

Proposal for a Council Regulation on the conservation, characterisation, collection and utilisation of genetic resources in agriculture and amending Regulation (EC) No 1258/1999 (VOLUME I/II). Addendum to progress report from General Secretariat of the Council dated 6 February 2002. Brussels, 4 March 2002 (06.02) (document 6031/02 ADD 2 AGRI 24 AGRIFIN 14 RECH 28; Nos prev. docs 13672/01 ADD 1 and 13672/01). Full text

Report from the Independent Expert Group to the Commission on the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 1467/94 on the conservation, characterisation, collection and utilisation of genetic resources in agriculture (VOLUME II/II)

In preparation for the next meeting of the Working Party on Genetic Resources in Agriculture, delegations will find attached the comments made by the French delegation following the meeting on 4 February 2002:

At this stage, France's questions relate mainly to five aspects of the Commission proposal:

1. Scope

- Is the list of genetic resources covered by the Regulation as given in Article 2(a) and (b) an exhaustive list? (The corresponding Article in Regulation No 1467/94 contained the expression "in particular"; what is the case, for example, of industrial plants such as flax?)

- Which wild fauna are covered by the expression "which are or could be of use in the field of agriculture"? Is the intention to cover only pollinating insects or should the scope be extended to burrowing insects, certain animals which control wild fauna, and birds? What about micro-organisms?

- Will the Commission/Member States define priorities among the genetic resources covered by the Regulation (particularly for micro-organisms)?

2. Measures covered

- Will a balance be established between ex situ, in situ and on farm measures? If so, by whom (Member States in their national programmes, Commission)? At what level (national programmes and/or multinational programmes)? At what point in time (when national action programmes or national or multinational programmes are being examined?)? Will the approach be the same for both the animal and the plant sector?

- Will it be possible to have a regional breakdown within multinational measures?

- What measures will be adopted with regard to inventories, characterisation and monitoring: measures in the context of CRC-Europe or the European programmes ECP/GR and EUFORGEN?

- Is it possible to include in this programme resource conservation measures which are under way but have not received Community funding (this is the case in particular for certain tropical crops which are costly to maintain)? If it is possible, how can it be done?

3. Procedure

- What exactly does the term "national action programme" (mentioned orally by the Commission) cover: all a Member State's activities in the field of genetic resources, a general policy document defining principles or priorities with regard to genetic resources? Is it merely a question of those national activities or plans with regard to genetic resources which fall within the scope of the Regulation (thus excluding micro-organisms and wild fauna as such)? Will a "national action programme" have to be submitted annually, or will a general policy document laying down national guidelines for several years be acceptable?

- How are the "objective criteria" determining the Member States' initial allocation to be set (Regulation, Commission, Commission and Member States in the committee for the implementing rules)? If they are set by the Commission, where will a precise list be found (what exactly do the terms "efforts undertaken by the Member States" and "average amount allocated to multinational projects" cover?)?

4. Financing

Quite apart from discussion of whether it is desirable to move to coverage by the EAGGF Guarantee Section, the following questions relate to the technical arrangements for financing programmes.

- How does the Commission intend to administer this programme, switching from a multiannual framework offered by heading 2 (where the appropriations are differentiated) to a strictly annual framework?

- Will the Community contribution take the form of refunds for completed measures or will it be paid in advance (as in the case of the co-financing of controls under Regulation No 723/97 ) ?

- Will the amount allocated to a country relate to the extent to which it has been able to develop its own programmes and pool multinational measures?

- What financing period will participants in a programme/Member States be able to take as a basis for formulating their proposals?

- On what basis will the Commission arbitrate if the annual amount of eligible programmes submitted by Member States exceeds EUR 10 million?

- Do the minimum contribution levels referred to in Article 7 (15% for Member States and 35% for the Commission) relate to "national action programmes" as a whole, or to "national or multinational programmes" taken separately?

- What exactly does the 15% financing by the Member States cover? (For example, can the budget or salaries of a public establishment be included?)

- Can the portion of additional financing to be provided by the participants include salaries and other contributions in kind (land...)?

5. Coordination

- How is coordination between national and multinational programmes to be ensured?

- Can States which are not EU members and not candidates for membership but which are taking part in multinational programmes alongside Member States benefit from financing under the Regulation?

- Can existing pooled structures and programmes in Europe, such as CRC-Europe, ECP/GR and EUFORGEN, be responsible for monitoring multinational measures and receive financing?

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