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[Luxembourg 2005 Presidency of the Council of the European Union]
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Press Release
Fernand Boden and Octavie Modert before the members of the EP Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety

Date of release : 03-02-2005

Policy area : Agriculture and Fisheries Agriculture and Fisheries

"The strength of Europe’s agriculture is due not only to the competitiveness of prices compared to international competition, but also and especially to the quality and safety of our food." With these words, Fernand Boden, Minister of Agriculture and President in Office of the "Agriculture and Fisheries Council," described the trump cards of European agriculture before the European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, on 2 February 2005.

In the presence of Secretary of State Octavie Modert, the Minister introduced the Luxembourg Presidency’s programme on food safety, public health, animal health, animal welfare and plant protection before the European Parliament committee in charge of these issues.

The Presidency’s fundamental objective is to consolidate and defend the accomplishments while taking scientific evolution into consideration, without neglecting the legitimate interests of all the players in the industry. This approach follows the general direction of the European Union’s multi-functional agriculture model throughout the entire European Union defined in 1997 during the last Luxembourg Presidency. It must meet not only the traditional economic objectives, but it must also make an essential contribution, particularly to the safety and quality of food products, environmental protection and the defence of animal welfare.

In this context, Fernand Boden underscored that during the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in 2003, "society’s requirements were even further incorporated into the agricultural policy, mainly through eco-conditionality." These obligations consist of a set of regulatory provisions on the environment, food safety, animal welfare and plant protection, as well as the maintenance of rural areas. The single payment to farmers as stipulated in the CAP is linked to the observance of eco-conditionality.

Nonetheless, the Minister acknowledges that efforts must be made so that "consumers and society recognise the real value of these elements."

In October 2004, the Council adopted an action plan for European organic agriculture prepared by the Commission. The plan provides for an in-depth revision of community legislation in this area based on a proposal to be prepared by the European Commission. Fernand Boden hopes that these proposals will be made under the Luxembourg Presidency.

The Chairman stated that "Europe’s food chain is one of the safest in the world." Likewise, he emphasised the political obligation to continue to strengthen these efforts. The Presidency’s programme therefore plans to deal rigorously with several essential issues.

Last December, the Commission proposed a change in the regulation on the prevention, control and eradication of certain Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs). Selected changes pertain to the determination of status with regard to BSE, control and eradication of TSEs, and the extension to other species of provisions for the marketing and export of cattle, sheep and goats. Inspections by the Community Food and Veterinary Office in other countries are also being adjusted.

Fernand Boden also said he wants the Commission to take an initiative on genetically modified organisms, particularly with regard to co-existence between genetically modified crops and traditional and organic crops. As a matter of fact, many Member States feel that it is more appropriate to introduce uniform and binding rules quickly in this area at the Community level, as opposed to leaving them up to the individual Member States for application.

The Minister raised other topics in the Presidency’s programme, such as the prevention and control of avian flu and the welfare of chickens while they are being raised. The forestry sector is affected by the proposal on the voluntary authorisation scheme of timber imported into the EU (FLEGT: Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade). The proposal will include, among other things, a series of preventive measures for the illegal felling of timber, especially in other countries.

This page was last modified on : 03-02-2005

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