Brussels, 24 Mar 2006
No. prev. doc.: 7210/06 + ADD 1
Subject: Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament
- Report on the implementation of national measures on the coexistence of genetically modified crops with conventional and organic farming
1. On 22 March 2006 the Working Party on Horizontal Agricultural Questions met with a view to the forthcoming Conference on crops coexistence, which will take place in Vienna (4-6 April 2006).
The Chair started the meeting by briefing delegations on the main organisational aspects of the said Conference and distributed a draft programme of the Conference (see Annex). She also welcomed the fact that 14 Member States' ministries had already confirmed political level participations which will certainly contribute to a successful outcome of this event.
2. The Working Party then had a technical presentation of the Commission's Report concerning the implementation of national measures on the coexistence of genetically modified crops with conventional and organic farming, followed by a brief exchange of views.
The Commission representative indicated that this document constitutes an overview of national coexistence measures taken by Member States in the framework of Directive 2001/18/EC and contains a number of Commission's measures for actions to be taken. Among these measures there are, in particular, those related to strengthening research activities, developing of best practices, and more information on national liability systems. He indicated however that due to the limited experience gathered so far and the need to complete the process of implementing national coexistence measures, it seems premature at this stage to develop an harmonised legislative approach in this field.
3. Delegations welcomed the Commission's Report as an important contribution to the forthcoming discussions on the crops coexistence issue.
As regards substance, preliminary comments were made by various delegations:
- Many delegations saw the need to further assess the EC legislative framework setting out labelling thresholds on seeds, in particular as regards the economic effects resulting from adventitious presence of GM crops in non-GM crops.
- Three delegations favoured a national-based approach anchored in the subsidiarity principle and ensuring flexible solutions whereby due account should be taken to different conditions of soil, climate, cropping patterns and dispersion of fields within the EU.
- Other delegations pointed out the need to adopt, in due time, EC harmonised rules and that a lack of harmonisation might endanger fair competition market conditions.
4. In concluding the meeting, the Chair announced that the Working Party will meet for half a day on 18 April 2006, to discuss the outcome of the Vienna Conference.
CONFERENCE DRAFT PROGRAMME
Co-existence of genetically modified, conventional and organic crops - freedom of choice
Vienna, 4-6 April 2006
19:30 Walking dinner, hosted by the Austrian Federal Minister for Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management
8:00 Registration and welcome coffee
OPENING PLENARY SESSION
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