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Agriculture and Fisheries Council

Agriculture and Fisheries Council
Date: 17.03.2008
Venue: Brussels
Policy area: Agriculture and Fisheries
Type of event: Council of Ministers

The meeting of the Council of the European Union on Agriculture and Fisheries will be chaired by the Slovenian Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Food, Iztok Jarc.

At the meeting, it is expected that the ministers will exchange views on the "Health Check" of the Common Agricultural Policy of the EU for the last time and will try to adopt Council conclusions concerning the Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on preparation of the review of CAP reform. The subject of discussion will be the necessary changes, adjustments and simplifications of the current organisation of the common agricultural policy in order to become more effective in its future challenges. The presidency took account of all opinions expressed by the Member States and clarifications made by the Commission in preparing draft decisions.

The decisions shall include the responses given by EU ministers for improving the effectiveness of the single payment area, adopting appropriate CAP measures and adjusting to new challenges.

Under the direct payments scheme, further simplifying the single payment area and phasing out production-related subsidies are expected by 2013, taking into consideration the vulnerability of particular sectors and the specific situation of vulnerable areas in individual Member States. The lower payment threshold should be set by the Member States, whereas the Council points out possible negative effects on agriculture in setting an upper payment threshold. Cross compliance provides the main element of the reformed CAP and is of key importance for ensuring public support to the new policy.

Within market measures, the CAP must include mechanisms acting as an effective safety net.   Following the abolition of milk quotas in 2015, a "soft landing" approach is anticipated (gradual increase in quotas, along with accompanying marketing and other measures) to ensure smooth adaptation and predictability for the producers, as well as special measures for vulnerable regions where the abolition of milk quotas would put milk production at risk. The abolition of the compulsory requirement to have land set aside is also planned, along with the preservation of the positive environmental impacts of set-aside land, especially through rural development measures.

The third subject area applies to new challenges. The Commission plans to consider possibilities for developing measures for risk management. New risks related to climate change, bio energy, water management and biodiversity preservation require a wider response, also through other policies, and within the scope of the existing rural development measures under the CAP. The Council draws attention to possible difficulties in responding to these challenges by extending the current scope of the cross-compliance requirements. Regarding energy crop supports, the promotion of bio energy is also possible by applying other instruments. Regarding modulation, the Council invites the Commission to examine all possibilities in connection with modulation.

Timely adoption of these decisions will enable the Commission to take them into account in preparing legislative proposals, which the Commission plans to present in May 2008.

In addition to the already mentioned measures, at this EU Council meeting the ministers will seek to achieve political agreement on a 2% increase in EU national milk quotas. This could be one possible measure for the "soft landing" approach to milk quota abolishment in 2015. In December 2007 the Commission prepared a report establishing favourable conditions for additional milk and dairy products offered to the EU and global market. Analysis performed in relation to the 2% increase in EU national milk production quotas has shown that the market provides realistic possibilities for placing these additional quantities.



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Date: 01.04.2008