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Press Release
Ministers for Agriculture discuss rural development and give the go-ahead to the Community Fisheries Control Agency

Date of release : 14-03-2005

Policy area : Agriculture and Fisheries Agriculture and Fisheries

Event : Agriculture and Fisheries Council

The European Agriculture ministers, together for a Council meeting in Brussels on 14 March, continued their talks on Rural Development and reached political agreement on establishing a Community Fisheries Control Agency.

Under the chairmanship of Fernand Boden, Minister for Agriculture, Viticulture and Rural Development, the Council has looked into the question of minimum rates of expenditure based on development of the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and use of the LEADER reserve. The three EAFRD pillars are aimed at improving competitivity, land management and diversification measures in favour of agriculture. The Commission has proposed minimum rates of 15, 25 an 15 per cent  respectively for these pillars. In parallel, the Ministers commented on the Commission proposals for the strategic aims for rural development for the period 2007-2013.

With regard to financing based on development, the President confirmed that "there is now a certain movement towards acceptance of the minimum rates, provided there is not too much rigidity," and "provided such a system affords the Member States sufficient flexibility to be able to implement integrated and horizontal development projects."

The President observed that "there is still great reticence about the LEADER reserve" and that "a large majority of delegations doubt the feasibility of any reserve, whether it is LEADER or more general." "The delegations emphasised that it would be difficult to plan expenditure on the basis of a supplementary envelope which would be made available only during the last two years of the programming period," he added.

Fernand Boden remarked that the Council favoured the principle of elaborating EU Strategic Guidelines for Rural Development policy, but that "a brief document with a clear message was required to enable the Community to easily explain the aims of the Common Agricultural Policy to the European public." The delegations have clearly stated that they are against an approach that is too rigid and could trigger "new legal constraints and additional administrative burdens for Member States". They are, however, in favour of integrating into such a text "the European agricultural model defined in 1997 during the preceding Luxembourg Presidency which aims to achieve competitive, sustainable and multifunctional agriculture spread across the entire European Union, including the less-favoured regions in addition of the Lisbon and Gothenburg objectives of," stated the President.

The Council reached a political agreement on establishing the Community Fisheries Control Agency which will be tasked with coordinating fishing controls in Community waters and which will have its headquarters in Vigo in Spain. The establishment of this agency constitutes one of the last stages of the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy initiated in 2002 in so far as this measure will enable standardised controls and inspections to be carried out throughout the Community, as well as the pooling of national control methods with a view to common deployment and harmonised training of fisheries inspectors. The weighting of voting rights on the governing board takes into consideration the interests of the Community: the Commission will have six votes; the Member States will have one vote each.

The Presidency and Commissioner Markos Kyprianou informed the Ministers about the state of advancement of negotiations in the phytosanitary area and veterinary relations with the Russian Federation.

The Commission made two proposals to the Council on risk and crisis management in agriculture and on implementation of the European Union’s forestry strategy. Both were received very favourably according to the President of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council. 

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This page was last modified on : 16-03-2005

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