Brussels, 16 September 2005
The Agriculture & Fisheries Council will meet in Brussels on Monday 19 (starting at 11 a.m.) and Tuesday 20 September under the Presidency of Mrs Margaret Beckett, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs of The United Kingdom.
Agriculture items will be discussed on Monday morning. In the margin of the Council meeting, Ministers will have an informal meeting with the Ministers of the sugar-producing ACP countries and LDCs on Monday at 14.30. The European Commission will be represented by Commissioners Mariann Fischer Boel and Louis Michel and a DG Trade representative. On Tuesday morning, Coreper points will be treated (Fisheries, Food Safety and also two Environment items)
The points on the agenda are:
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:
The Council will start with a Presidency briefing in preparation of the informal meeting with Ministers of the sugar-producing ACP countries and LDSs
- State of the cereals market
- State of the wine and fruit & vegetables markets
- Early payment of SAPS subsidies
Fishery resources in the Mediterranean
Proposal for a Council Regulation concerning management measures for the sustainable exploitation of fishery resources in the Mediterranean Sea and amending Regulations (EEC) No 2847/93 and (EC) No973/2001
The Council will discuss the Commission proposal on management measures to tackle the overexploitation of fisheries resources and ensure the sustainability of Mediterranean fisheries. Overfishing has led to a de crease in catches which, in the case of some species, are 60% lower now than they were 20 years ago. Scientific bodies have underlined the poor state of many fish stocks. To achieve sustainable fisheries, the Commission proposes to build up on the measures that are currently in place and to establish new ones so as to provide a comprehensive management system for Mediterranean fisheries.
These measures have been specifically designed to respond to the characteristics of Mediterranean fisheries. They include a progressive increase in net mesh sizes, the strengthening of the current ban on certain trawling activities to protect young fish, the prohibition of certain practices which have detrimental effects on marine ecosystems and habitats, the conservation of swordfish, improved enforcement, the sharing of management responsibilities between the EU and the Member States and the introduction of fishing effort as a management tool.
The Commission proposal was tabled in October 2003 (see IP/03/1361 Â²) following the Action Plan for sustainable fisheries adopted as part of the 2002 reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. It led to a wide ranging debate with stakeholders, the Member States and the European Parliament. Given the urgent need for action, the Commission hopes that agreement can now be reached so that the necessary measures to protect Mediterranean stocks can be put in place as soon as possible.
Options and principles for enhancing stock recovery measures
The Council will debate, on the basis of a Presidency Paper, the options and principles for enhancing stock recovery measures. Despite the recovery plan for cod stocks in EU waters, adopted in 2003, these stocks are still heavily depleted. Both the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) and the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee on Fisheries (STECF) have, since 2001, recommended no fishing on these stocks.
Despite the measures taken under this plan, the Council needs to be prepared for the possibility that fishing mortalities have not gone down as intended. There is a clear commitment under the plan, to react in this situation. The Commission therefore welcomes the Presidency’s paper with which the Commission is in full agreement and which forms a very good basis for the discussion. The Commission will be interested to hear the views of the Member States on how to move forward.
Economic difficulties of the fisheries sector
Commissioner Borg will inform the Council of the precarious economic situation of a substantial part of the European fishing fleet, which has been compounded by the hike in fuel prices. The Commissioner believes that the current difficulties of the sector show the fragility of its economic base. This situation stems from, among other things, declining catches and incomes mainly as a result of overfishing. Necessary tough measures to rebuild fish stocks and ensure the sustainability of fisheries add to the constraints on the sector and prevent increases in production to compensate for the shortfall in income.
Yet, the Commissioner believes that the fishing sector has a future if it can be helped through a restructuring process aimed at reaching a better balance between the fleets and the fish resources that can safely be removed from the sea. This would give the industry a more secure economic base that would allow it to ride out cyclical problems, instead of being economically threatened by events such as the high cost of fuel.
Commissioner Borg will, therefore, outline some possible measures in the short, medium and long term with a view to strengthening the economic fabric of the sector.
Commission emergency measures to extend the closure of the anchovy fishery in the Bay of Biscay
The French delegation will raise the question of the Commission’s announcement that it intends to extend the temporary closure of the Bay of Biscay fishery from 3 October till 31 December. The Commission closed this fishery from 2 July to 2 October 2005 on the basis of scientific advice from ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Sea). ICES warned of the urgent need to protect this depleted stock. The Commission asked its advisory group, the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee on Fisheries to examine the latest data on this stock.
After meeting in July, the STECF has endorsed the Commission’s temporary closure and recommended further protection for the stock through closure of the fishery. STECF also advised that alternative measures should not be considered. The Commission has announced its intention to start the procedure to extend the closure till the end of the year and to subsequently propose a zero total allowable catch for anchovy in the Bay of Biscay until independent and reliable data on the state of the stock become available.
The Commission will soon meet with the Member States concerned to examine ways ahead in applying an in-year management system when scientific data indicate there are sufficient anchovy to permit a reopening of the fishery. This more flexible approach, which is better adapted to the characteristics of this stock than an annual TAC, was provided for in a common Council/Commission Declaration last December.
Health and food safety
Commissioner Kyprianou will provide Ministers with an update on Avian Influenza and EU pandemic flu preparedness (see MEMO/05/295 )
There are two Environment points on the agenda of the Council. Both points concern comitology procedures, which set 3 month deadlines for the Council to react to Commission proposals. As the next Environment Council is only on 17 October, the Presidency has put the two Environment points on the agenda of this Council to be within the 3 month deadline.
End of life vehicles
The Council will vote on a proposal from the Commission to further phase out heavy metals like lead, mercury, cadmium or chromium in materials and components of cars. The End of life-vehicle Directive (Dir. 2000/53/EC ) prohibits the use of such heavy metals vehicle materials and components, unless an exemption is set out in Annex II to the Directive. In the light of technical and scientific progress, the Commission has proposed a revision of Annex II to further restrict the use of these substances.
The Council is also due to vote on a proposal from the Commission to authorise the placing on the market for import, industrial processing and feed use only – not for food use or cultivation - of a genetically modified maize known as Zea mays L. line 1507. This maize product has been genetically modified for resistance to certain lepidopterand pests and for tolerance to the herbicide glufosinate-ammonium. The Regulatory Committee, which is set up under Directive 2001/18/EC on the deliberate release into the environment of GMOs, and representing the Member States, failed to reach the qualified majority necessary to support the Commission proposal in their meeting in May.