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Press Release
Rural development and financing of CAP on the agenda of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council

Date of release : 28-02-2005

Policy area : Agriculture and Fisheries Agriculture and Fisheries

Event : Agriculture and Fisheries Council

At its meeting in Brussels on 28 February the Agriculture and Fisheries Council chaired by Fernand Boden, the Minister for Agriculture, Viticulture and Rural Development, looked into the question of support for rural development through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD or FEADER) by means of a questionnaire prepared by the Luxembourg Presidency. Discussions focused on implementation of the Lisbon strategy and competitiveness objectives in rural development policy, the flexibility accorded to the Member States and the implementation of Natura 2000. The Presidency will address the questions on the minimum rate of financing per axis and on the funds earmarked for the Leader reserve during the next meeting of the Council of 14 March.

The President of the Council recalled that "the reform of the first pillar of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has clearly improved competitiveness in agricultural production, its suitability for the market and its spirit of enterprise." He confirmed that the Council "came out clearly in favour of a strong policy on the subject of rural development, which also makes a real contribution towards achieving the Lisbon objectives." He noted that "the Council clearly showed its agreement on the inclusion of support for innovation and development among the measures to be implemented."

Fernand Boden remarked that most delegations wish to make further progress on the simplification of procedures and are aiming for a greater degree of subsidiarity between the Community and the Member States. He confirmed that concerns prevail about available resources for implementing the Natura 2000 measures, and about the areas to be considered and the circle of beneficiaries of those same measures.

The Presidency and the Commission want to prepare together, in the shortest possible time, a new compromise text focusing on the entirety of the proposal relating to support for rural development in order to advance the dossier as quickly as possible.

The Council also addressed the regulation proposal relating to the financing of CAP. The delegations welcomed the considerable progress made on this dossier. He indicated that the Presidency will try to "prepare, together with the Commission, a solution to the question [...] of establishing financial ceilings in euros", a question posing problems for countries that are not part of the eurozone and are fearing problems relating to possible fluctuations in exchange rates between currencies.

The Council also touched on the issue of competences regarding the measures for safeguarding the financing ceiling for agricultural expenditures if there are any unforeseen budgetary surpluses.

The Council agreed to the proposal by the Commission to transfer fishing boats to the countries affected by the tsunami of 26 December of last year. This decision, which was part of the European Union’s package for the reconstruction of the communities affected by the tsunami, aims to enable the transfer of decommissioned boats as part of the reduction of the fishing fleet in Community waters in order to facilitate the economic revival of the devastated fishing communities. The measure will remain in force until 30 June 2006 and permit the transfer of intact boats no more than 12 meters long and no more than 20 years old.

Fernand Boden, the President of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council, reacted to criticism of this decision. "I also wish to counter those concerned about the effect that this measure could have on the sustainability of fishing in the regions affected. I believe that it is important to remember that, first of all, the transfer must respond to the needs identified by [the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation] (FAO) and, in addition, that this is an optional measure in the broader sense because, on the one hand, it is up to each Member State to decide whether to make use of it or not, and on the other hand, the transfer must be in accordance with the request of the third countries," the Minister told his counterparts.

The Ministers adopted the proposal regarding the entry into force of the directive on protective measures against the introduction into the Community of organisms harmful to plants or plant products and against their spread within the Community. As well, the target date initially set for 1 March 2005 has been postponed to 1 March 2006 in order to enable research to be conducted in this area.

The request by Germany regarding information on the origin and provenance of foods found support in a great number of delegations. Considering that a reform of the food- labelling measures in force is indispensable and taking into account the announcement by the Commission on the initiation of such reforms, the German delegation requested that the Commission report on the progress made in the area of information on the origin of foods and on proposing solutions in response to the justifiable requests of consumers.

Commissioner Kyprianou informed the Ministers for Agriculture about his recent visit to Moscow, during which he discussed phytosanitary and veterinary aspects of trade between the European Union and the Russian Federation with the Russian authorities. The next meeting between the European Union and Russia on the subject of the simplification of the pre-certification system and health certificates for plant products originating in the Union and intended for export to the Russian Federation will be held on 2 March.

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This page was last modified on : 01-03-2005

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