Expert group's report on genetic resources in agriculture, UK questions on proposed regulation

February 21, 2002

Brussels, 20 February 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). Progress report from General Secretariat of the Council, dated 6 February 2002. Brussels, 13 February 2002 (19.02) (document 6031/02 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)

1. The Commission submitted the abovementioned report and proposal to the Council on 31 October 2001. The Working Party on Genetic Resources in Agriculture met on 4 February 2002 to begin its examination of the report and the proposal, which represents an entirely new approach for Community policy with regard to genetic resources in agriculture compared to the arrangement set up in 1994 under Regulation No 1467/94 .

2. Before stating its position on the report and examining the proposal's enacting terms, delegations felt that the scope of the Regulation should be clarified and therefore put a number of questions to the Commission representative with particular reference to the following aspects:
­ the structure of the Community measures (Articles 3-5);
­ the role of the Commission (Articles 8 and 10);
­ the financial aspects (Articles 7 and 9).

3. Other questions concerned:
­ the practical implementation of the regulation;
­ the definition of "national programme";
­ coordination of "multinational programmes";
­ the scope of Article 4 (annual or multiannual programmes);
­ the division between Member States of responsibility for the funding and management of the multinational programmes;
­ operation of the invitation to tender procedures for multinational programmes;
­ the Commission's role in the coordination and monitoring of the Community action programme provided for in Article 10;
­ the possibility of providing for "ex situ" measures in national programmes;
­ bringing the duration of programmes that may cover five years (Article 4(2)) into line with the entry into force of the Regulation on the third day following its publication (Article 15);
­ the link between Article 3(1) concerning national action programmes and the ECP/GR and EUFORGEN programmes provided for by Article 4;
­ the relationship between national programmes and the ECP/GR and EUFORGEN programmes;
­ the definition of "objective criteria" in Article 8(1);
­ the implications of application of the criteria provided for in Article 8 (objective criteria, efforts undertaken and average amount allocated to multinational projects under Regulation (EC) No 1467/94 ) ;
­ the detailed arrangements for the funding of national programmes that include multinational projects ­ EAGGF or other funding;
­ the justification for EAGGF-Guarantee Section funding of measures concerning genetic resources;
­ the breakdown of actual expenditure incurred pursuant to Regulation No 1467/94;
­ the financing of multiannual programmes;
­ the CE or NCE nature of the budgetary allocation this Regulation is to receive and the responsibility for funding.

4. In particular, the UK delegation asked the Commission to provide a table indicating the different stages in the procedure, from the invitation to tender to payment, defining the responsibilities of each actor at each stage.

5. The Commission representative's replies at this first meeting failed to allay delegations' concerns. The delegations took the view that in any event no useful examination of the proposal's enacting terms could be undertaken until the Commission provided clear answers to the questions raised.

6. In addition, the UK delegation pointed out that it had already sent the Commission written questions on the proposal for a Regulation prior to the meeting of the Committee on the conservation, characterisation, collection and utilisation of genetic resources in agriculture at the Commission on 29 January 2002, and had requested written replies.

7. Winding up the meeting, the Chairman asked the Commission to provide a working document that could clarify delegations' questions, with particular reference to those put by the United Kingdom delegation, as contained in the Annex, which had as yet received no response. The Presidency agreed to wait until the document requested of the Commission was ready before convening the Working Party's next meeting, initially scheduled for 20 February 2002.


ANNEX - Informal Note: UK comments and questions on proposal for a Council Regulation concerning the conservation, the characterisation, the collection and use of genetic resources in agriculture

Action Programmes:

1. Articles 3 and 10 of the proposed Regulation imply that there will be both Member State and Community programmes:
(a) how will these be integrated?
(b) who will draw up the Community programme and to what extent will it take account of national programs?
(c) who will decide the division of resources between Community and Member State programmes?

2. In relation to national programmes:
(a) on what basis will the Commission approve them?
(b) how will they be "coordinated" (Article 3(a))?
(c) how will multinational projects be identified and included in national programmes?

3. How will action programmes be coordinated with other international organisations, e.g. ECP/GR? Could funds be used in support of ECP/GR projects? If so, with what, if any, restrictions e.g. related to the participation of non-EU countries (bearing in mind that coordination with non-EU countries can provide clear benefits to the EU)?

4. Action programmes are to last for up to 5 years from the date regulation comes into force:
(a) re these action programmes specific to the regulation?
(b) that is the timetable for their establishment/adoption?
(c) impact on availability of funds, at least for first year?
(d) would projects need to be completed within the 5-year life of programs?


5. The higher total value (*50 million as against *20 million under 1467/94) is welcome, but:
(a) why a lower Community contribution (35% compared with 50%)?
(b) given that member states must contribute at least 15%, where will the remaining 50% come from?
(c) Private sector, and NGOs, more willing to offer inputs-in-kind. Will there be a mechanism to recognise such inputs?
(d) how will Member State contributions be determined for multinational projects (15% from each state or in total)?

6. We would like more information on the mechanism for initial allocations of funds and their subsequent adjustment, e.g.:
(a) how will Member State's previous "efforts" be assessed (Article 8.1)?; can the Commission provide an analysis of funding allocation by Member State and project under 1467/94?
(b) what does "at least equal to the average amount allocated to multinational projects under Regulation (EC) 1467/94" mean?
(c) when will adjustments be considered, and will account be taken of the state of implementation of programs?


7. How will multinational projects be administered by Member States? Who will bear the cost of administration?

8. How would costs be divided between Member States party to the same multinational project?

9. What does the Commission envisage in terms of national management bodies and paying agencies (Explanatory Memorandum Part 3, paragraph 5, 2nd indent)?

10. What will be the Commission's role in "coordination activities" (Explanatory Memorandum Part 3, para 5, 2nd indent)?


11. What does the Commission have in mind and how will any action here be coordinated with other initiatives e.g. the EPGRIS database for plants and for animals, the European database on Farm Animal Genetic Resources in Hanover and FAO DAD-IS database in Rome?

Ex situ; in situ; on-farm

12. Acknowledge that there needs to be greater complementarity between ex situ and in situ conservation. Does Commission have any fixed idea as to the balance between these forms of conservation?

13. In situ conservation would relate largely to wild crop relatives, feral animal populations and farmed wild fauna:
(a) what measures are envisaged under recital (7) ­ ".. measures that go beyond the scope of Council Regulation (EC) 1257/99 ) "?
(b) if nature protection areas are excluded how is in situ conservation of wild relatives to be covered (Article 4.1(c))?

Animal; plant; microbial:

14. Does Commission have fixed idea on the right balance between these genetic resources?

15. Can the Commission provide more details on the intended coverage of the provisions. For example would the following be included: horses, bees, pheasants and game birds, park deer?

Other Issues:

16. What role does the Commission envisage for itself in "international representation" (Explanatory Memorandum Part 3, para 5, 2nd indent)?

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