At the first meeting of the EU Council under Slovenia's Presidency, chaired by Minister Iztok Jarc, the agriculture ministers reached a political agreement on changes in cross-compliance. "I am very satisfied with today's meeting since it involved a constructive and intensive debate. At the end, a compromise proposal of the Presidency was adopted and thereby a political agreement on changes in cross-compliance implementation," said Minister Jarc after the meeting.
Minister Jarc pointed out that "the political agreement reached is important from the point of view of attaining the objectives of the Lisbon Strategy, since the agreed changes can contribute to more successful and more simplified implementation of the requirements of cross-compliance in practice – for farmers as well as administration".
"Speaking of cross-compliance, we must be aware that we are talking about one of the most important roles of the European agricultural model: the protection of the environment and the health of people, animals and plants. This is also what the wider public expects from agriculture. With today's agreement we enable farmers to more easily implement their role in practice."
The political agreement provides for the beginning of implementation of cross-compliance simplifications this year. At the same time it provides the new Member States with the possible introduction of cross-compliance partly in 2009 and 2011, for Romania and Bulgaria in 2012 and 2014.
"We had an intensive and constructive debate. The CAP reached the point when it has to answer to and adapt to changes on the market, as well as to the expectations of the wider public," said Jarc after the meeting, pointing out that "the Health Check is an excellent opportunity to direct the CAP with an open and thorough debate into more successful and effective implementation. In this way we can contribute to the greater competitiveness of European agriculture and at the same time respond to expectations on ensuring the public good."
The Member States welcomed the Communication of the Commission and are of the opinion that it correctly assesses the main movements by the implemented reforms adopted in 2003 and 2004, as well as the main challenges for the CAP in the following years. As expected, opinions about the level of ambitiousness and scope of the adjustments defined in the Communication are divided.
Many countries emphasized the need for more specific proposals on measures of risk management and setting up of safety net as response to eventual market crisis. Despite the fact that some countries would prefer more radical and quicker steps towards liberalisation, most Member States.
The Council also agrees that the Communication defines the methods of action which would at the same time better coordinate the CAP with the general expectations of society and thereby preserve the European agricultural model.
The ministers will continue the debate at the meeting of the EU Council in February.