Preparation Agriculture/Fisheries Council of October 2005

October 24, 2005

Brussels, 21 October 2005

The Agriculture & Fisheries Council will meet in Luxembourg on Monday 24 (starting at 11 a.m.) and Tuesday 25 October under the Presidency of Mrs Margaret Beckett, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Mr Ben Bradshaw, Under-Secretary of State and Minister for Local Environment, Marine and Animal Welfare of The United Kingdom.

Fisheries items will be discussed on Monday morning. In the afternoon, the other Coreper points will be on the agenda of the Council. On Tuesday (starting at 10 a.m.) Agriculture items will be discussed.

Over lunch, on Monday the Ministers will discuss the Council working methods on fisheries items and on Tuesday the state of play of the WTO agricultural negotiations.

The points on the agenda are:

Fisheries

Council Regulation for the recovery of Southern hake and Norway lobster

The Council will discuss the measures proposed by the Commission on 23 December 2003 for the recovery of the Southern hake and Norway lobster stocks in the Cantabrian Sea and Western Iberian Peninsula. These measures were tabled on the basis of scientific advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) which indicated that these stocks were severely depleted and recommended the creation of a recovery plan. Since there is an overlap between the stocks concerned, it makes sense to propose a single plan for both.

Since then, scientists have continued to indicate that the stocks of both species are in a critical state and even recommended a stoppage in the fisheries concerned in the absence of a recovery plan. There have been extensive consultations with the stakeholders on the measures proposed by the Commission and the European Parliament provided its advice on these measures last April. In December 2004, the Council adopted provisional measures to reduce the amount of fishing applied to southern hake but no specific measures have been put in place to protect Norway lobster. The Commission believes, therefore, that it is now urgent to have an agreement on the recovery plan so that the badly-needed rebuilding process can start for these depleted stocks.

The proposed plan aims to ensure the recovery of these stocks to safe biological levels within a period of ten years. The measures involved would include the set up of a fishing effort limitation scheme so as to reduce the time spent fishing by vessels catching hake and Norway lobster and the creation of two seasonal closed areas to protect the Norway lobster stocks.

EU/NORWAY – exchange of views

The first round of annual fisheries consultations with Norway for 2006 will be held from 8-10 November in Bergen. The Commission will discuss the issues involved with the Council, listen to all delegations and present the approach which it intends to take in these negotiations.

AOB

The Commission will present the progress made to date with setting up Regional Advisory Councils (RACs). RACs are one of the core elements of the 2002 reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. These stakeholder-led fora provide fishermen and other interested parties with the opportunity to play an active role in the formulation of policy. Three RACs are now up and running – the North Sea RAC, the Pelagic RAC, and the North Western Waters RAC – and preparations are underway with a view to the formation of the other four: the Baltic RAC, the Distant-Water Fisheries RAC, the South Western Waters RAC and the Mediterranean RAC.

Health and food safety

Avian Influenza

Commissioner Kyprianou will update Ministers on recent developments regarding Avian Influenza. The Commissioner will explain the actions taken by the Commission, in particular, decisions that have been taken until now regarding restrictions of imports of live birds from areas where outbreaks have been confirmed (Romania, Turkey and more recently Russia) and other preventive measures adopted by Member States in the framework of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health concerning increased bio-security measures, early detection systems to be put in place etc.

GMOs

Placing on the market – maize lines GA21 and MON863

The purpose of the two proposals is to authorise the placing on the market of foods and food ingredients produced from genetically modified maize lines GA21 and MON 863.

In both cases, the Commission submitted draft authorisation decisions to the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health. The Committee failed to reach the qualified majority necessary to support the Commission proposals.

Consequently, and in accordance with comitology rules and the Novel Food Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 , the Commission submitted the proposals to the Council, on July for MON 863 and on 1 August for GA21.

The Council has three months to act. It can either adopt or reject the decisions with a qualified majority. If no qualified majority is reached, the files will come back to the Commission for final adoption.

Greece - MON 810

In April 2005, Greece notified to the Commission a ministerial order prohibiting, for the growing seasons of 2005 and 2006, the marketing of seeds of maize hybrids with the genetic modification MON 810 which are inscribed in the common catalogue and asked the Commission to authorise this national measure (in accordance with Article 18 of Directive 2002/53/EC ). In principle, Member States must ensure that seed varieties which are included in the common catalogue are not subject to any marketing restrictions, as a proper risk assessment has taken place.

On the basis of the elements supplied by Greece in support of its request, the Commission concluded that such a prohibition should not be authorised.

A draft Commission Decision providing that Greece is not authorised to prohibit the marketing of the above mentioned seeds was submitted for vote to the Standing Committee on Seeds and Plant Propagating Material for Agriculture, Horticulture and Forestry on 20 July 2005. The Committee delivered no opinion as there was neither a qualified majority in favour nor against the proposal.

The Commission therefore submitted the proposal to the Council on 29 August. The Council has three months in which to act by a qualified majority.

Agriculture

Sugar sector reform

On 22 June 2005, the Commission proposed far-reaching reforms to the Common Market Organisation for sugar (see IP/05/776 ). The changes will enhance the competitiveness and market-orientation of the European Union sugar sector, guarantee it a viable long-term future and strengthen the EU’s negotiating position in the current round of world trade talks. They will modernise the current system, which has remained largely unchanged for around 40 years. The new system will continue to offer preferential access to Europe’s sugar market for developing countries at an attractive price well above the world market level.

African, Caribbean and Pacific countries which traditionally export sugar to the EU will benefit from an assistance programme, also adopted by the Commission today. The Commission reform proposals include a two-step cut totalling 39% in the price for white sugar; compensation to farmers for 60 percent of the price cut through a decoupled payment - which would be linked to the respect of environmental and land management standards and added to the Single Farm Payment; a voluntary restructuring scheme lasting four years to encourage less competitive producers to leave the sector; and the abolition of intervention. The ACP assistance plan will earmark €40 million for 2006 and pave the way for further assistance.
For details on the proposal, an info pack and other information on the reform of the sugar market, see:

http:///europa.eu.int/comm/agriculture/capreform/sugar/in...

The Council will have an exchange of views on the Commission proposals. No decision is expected at this stage. The Commission remains confident to reach political agreement at the November Agriculture Council.

FLEGT: Imports of timber

The Council is expected to reach political agreement on a Regulation establishing the FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade) voluntary licensing for timber imports. It aims to control illegal logging in producer countries and improve governance of the timber trade. It has the objective to ensure that only legal timber from wood-producing countries enters the EU.

The Commission adopted the proposal for a Regulation in July 2004 (See IP/04/980 , MEMO/04/194 and COM(2004) 515 ). The Regulation will be part of a comprehensive set of measures to combat illegal logging and the related trade in illegally harvested timber.

Together with the draft Regulation, the Commission also submitted to the Council a proposal for a negotiating mandate for the Commission to negotiate with wood-producing countries voluntary partnership agreements for the introduction of a timber licensing scheme.

AOB

  • CAP Simplification: The Commission will present a Communication on Simplification and Better Regulation for the CAP (see IP/05/1309 and MEMO/05/382 ).
  • Marketing and labelling of shallots (French demand)
  • Market situation in the olive oil sector (Greek

    Item source: MEMO/05/391 Date: 21/10/2005 =>=>=>=>=>=>=>

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