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Agriculture and Fisheries

European agriculture has undergone significant changes since the establishment of the European Communities and the harmonisation of the agricultural policies of the Member States. This is mainly due to advances in technology and cultivation, as well as social changes. One of the traditional tasks of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has been to ensure that these developments are socially acceptable.


The Common Agricultural Policy

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has to find answers to the challenges generated by the globalisation of agricultural markets, as well as the demographic changes in many rural areas. At the same time, society is making growing demands on agriculture in terms of nature conservation, animal welfare and environmental protection, and the way in which food is produced. The European Union has therefore radically reformed many spheres of its agricultural policy since the early 1990s. These reforms have been aimed at increasing market competitiveness and at promoting sustainability. To compensate for the fall in support prices for agricultural produce, farmers have been receiving direct payments decoupled from production which require the observation of special regulations on animal welfare, environmental protection and food safety.

The reformed CAP has introduced the rewarding of practices which make a contribution to society, but which are free of charge. These are entailed in the rural development programme measures, including the conservation of traditional farming and recreational lands in rural areas.


Development and promotion of rural areas

The structural changes affect not only agriculture, but the entire rural sphere. Integrated political strategies are needed more than ever. Therefore, the promotion of rural areas is a key cornerstone of the updated Common Agricultural Policy. The European Union's recent reforms have created new incentives for tapping the potential of rural areas and mobilising creative forces. The production of renewables for energy generation and for industrial use plays a key role in this.


Food safety and animal welfare

CAP also focuses on food safety and animal welfare. For instance, EU Member States and the European Commission are cooperating closely to combat cross-border threats such as avian flu.


Common Fisheries Policy

The main objective of the European Union's Common Fisheries Policy is to ensure the sustainable use of natural resources from the sea, lakes and rivers.


Programme for Agriculture and Fisheries during the Slovenian Presidency

Slovenia is the first of the Member States which joined the European Union (EU) in the last wave of its enlargement in 2004 and 2007 to hold the Council Presidency. At the same time Slovenia is closing the first Trio Presidency and its 18-month programme. The main aim of the Slovenian Presidency is to achieve the goals set out in this programme, to sustain the continuity of EU policies, and to ensure a smooth transition to the next Trio Presidency. Achieving these ambitious goals will require a continuous and sustained effort.


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Date: 20.05.2008