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EU Agriculture Ministers adapt Common Agricultural Policy

At the meeting of the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council, chaired by Slovenian Minister of Agriculture Iztok Jarc, the Ministers adopted Council conclusions regarding the Commission communication on the ‘health check’ of the CAP reform. Review of the common agricultural policy is one of the Slovenian Council Presidency priorities in the area of agriculture.

“Although we have stressed throughout that this is not a new reform; it is more than a mere technical adjustment. With these conclusions, the Council is sending a clear signal and is laying down guidelines for the future development of agricultural policy in the period 2009-2013,” said EU Council President Iztok Jarc.

The Minister emphasised, “With these adjustments we are making the CAP even more efficient and adapting agriculture to the new global market conditions and new challenges before us. At the same time, the amendments enable us to preserve the European agricultural model and respond to the demands of consumers and society for agriculture to have a broader role.”

Concerning direct payments, the Member States may keep or adapt their model of the single payments scheme until 2013, allowing for the sensitivity of particular sectors and special conditions of vulnerable areas in individual Member States to be taken into consideration. The Council agrees with the Commission proposal that new Member States may keep the single area payment scheme until 2013.

Cross compliance remains the main element of the reformed CAP and is of key importance for ensuring public support for the new policy. The Council points out, however, that the administrative burden for farmers and for the public administration should not be increased and should even, where possible, be reduced. The Ministers called upon the Commission to examine the possibility of extending implementation of the statutory management requirements for new Member States implementing the single area payment scheme.

The Ministers also point out that significantly lowering the upper payment threshold may have adverse effects on farming in some Member States. The Council welcomes the Commission proposal on introducing additional measures in the context of Article 69 for specific needs in certain areas and sectors in all Member States.

As far as market measures are concerned, the Ministers agree that the CAP should include mechanisms which work as an effective safety net.

In the context of abolishing milk quotas in 2015, provision is made for a ‘soft landing’ approach to ensure a smooth transition and predictability for producers, as well as special measures for vulnerable regions where the abolition of milk quotas would put milk production at risk. The Council invites the Commission to examine all possible measures in the context of the ‘soft landing’ approach.

In respect of adapting agriculture to new challenges, such as climate change, bio-energy, water management and conservation of biodiversity, the Commission should examine all possibilities for the development of risk management measures. New risks require a wider response, one that involves other policies and also, in the context of CAP, existing measures for rural development. The Ministers especially highlighted the importance of innovation in this regard. The Council invited the Commission to examine all the possibilities of financing such adaptations, including obligatory modulation.

The debate will continue at the informal ministerial meeting in Slovenia in May, where the Commission will present its legislative proposals. The Slovenian Presidency will then endeavour to pursue the debate on the legislative proposals intensively in the working parties in June.


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Date: 21.03.2008