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[Luxembourg 2005 Presidency of the Council of the European Union]
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You are here : Home > News > Press Releases > January 2005 > Speech by Fernand Boden, Minister for Agriculture, Viticulture and Rural Development, and by Octavie Modert, Secretary of State, to the European Parliament’s Agriculture and Rural Development Committee
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Press Release
Speech by Fernand Boden, Minister for Agriculture, Viticulture and Rural Development, and by Octavie Modert, Secretary of State, to the European Parliament’s Agriculture and Rural Development Committee

Date of release : 20-01-2005

Policy area : Agriculture and Fisheries Agriculture and Fisheries

On Wednesday, 19 January 2005, Fernand Boden, Luxembourg's Minister for Agriculture as well as the current President of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council, and Secretary of State Octavie Modert presented the Luxembourg Presidency’s programme on agriculture to the European Parliament’s Agriculture and Rural Development Committee.

First and foremost, the Minister expressed his sympathy for the victims of the tsunami in South-East Asia and reassured the MEPs: “I have the firm intention, in liaison with the Commission, of raising these events at our next "Agriculture and Fisheries" Council on 24 January, with a view to embarking on an in-depth process of reflection with all the ministers about what our Council can do "to provide assistance to the inhabitants of the regions affected".

In his speech, the minister emphasised his determination "to continue the endeavour to consolidate the European agricultural model, defined in 1997 under the Luxembourg Presidency."  This model is based on competitive, sustainable and multi-functional agriculture spread throughout the territory of the European Union, including less-favoured regions.

In his speech, the minister paid special attention to a new regulatory framework for rural development.  He announced his resolve to reach an agreement on the proposal by the European Commission under Luxembourgish Presidency in order to allow implementation of the new rural development plans from 2007 onward.  In the context of consultations with the European Parliament, Minister Boden is relying on the cooperation of MEPs: "I would be grateful if you would make the fastest possible progress in your work on the proposals relating to rural development, so that the Council can conclude its work in the shortest possible time, taking due account of the EP’s opinion."

In answer to questions from several MEPs about the risks of possible co-funding of measures in the first pillar of the CAP, the current President answered that he would remain faithful to the European model of agricultural policy: compulsory co-funding of measures in the first pillar would be a first step towards re-nationalisation of the CAP, which would be unacceptable for countries which do not have the financial means to provide national co-funding of measures, leading to an excessive disparity between Member States.

The reform of the common market organisation (COM) for sugar is a complex issue that is on the agenda of the Luxembourg Presidency. The Luxembourg Presidency will endeavour to push this reform forward by taking account of the interests of the European sector and the interests of developing countries.  Fernand Boden announced that "the interests of these countries should be duly taken into account by the Council of Ministers of the European Union and should form an integral part of the discussions on the reform of the COM for sugar, as well as negotiations at the WTO."  To underline the importance of this subject, an Informal Council meeting with the members of the ACP and LDC countries will take place alongside the "Agriculture" Council on 24 January 2005.

The programme of the Presidency also takes account of the system for importation of rice, the raw tobacco sector and Community quotas for the production of potato starch.

With regard to the forestry sector, the Luxembourg Presidency will attempt to reach an agreement on the Commission’s legislative proposal for the introduction of a voluntary authorisation scheme for imports of timber into the European Union (FLEGT: Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade).  A forestry strategy is in preparation within the European Commission, and will be the subject of a debate in the Council as soon as it is available.

On the international stage, the Presidency expects important negotiations at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to be carried out in such a way as to achieve a satisfactory result for all parties, or at least to achieve substantial progress.

The European Action Plan for Organic Food and Farming, which was approved a few months ago, was a first step in an ongoing process.  Minister Boden wanted "the Commission proposals to be adopted as soon as possible so that they could be examined by the Council" during the Luxembourg Presidency.

Other major subjects also deserve greater attention: genetically modified organisms (GMOs), food safety, public health, animal health and welfare and plant protection.  Minister Boden emphasized the importance that the Presidency attaches to these subjects and its determination to make progress on these matters.

This page was last modified on : 21-01-2005

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