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[Luxembourg 2005 Presidency of the Council of the European Union]
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Press Release
Unanimous agreement on rural development at the "Agriculture" Council

Date of release : 20-06-2005

Policy area : Agriculture and Fisheries Agriculture and Fisheries

Event : Agriculture and Fisheries Council

On 20 June 2005, the Luxembourg Presidency achieved a success with the unanimous adoption of a political agreement on the regulation governing support for rural development. This latest success comes on top of that achieved on 30 May regarding the financing of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

"This evening, I can say that we have achieved the two main priorities of our Presidency". Fernand Boden, the current President of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council, stated that he was proud, after the difficult situation following the recent European Council, that "Europe was still capable of taking important decisions, as well as showing solidarity and mutual understanding"

The European Commissioner, Mariann Fischer-Boel, underlined the importance of the decision: "this agreement implements the Lisbon Strategy in rural environments. Safeguarding jobs and competitivity concerns not only urban environments"

Let it be remembered that the Common Agricultural Policy for the financial programming period 2007-2013 will be implemented by means of two financial tools: The European Agricultural Guarantee Fund (FEAGA) and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (FEADER).

Support for rural development focuses on four axes which repeat the priority objectives: measures designed to increase the competitivity of the agricultural and forestry sectors (axis 1), measures in favour of the environment and good management of the rural area (axis 2 ), measures aimed at improving the quality of life in rural areas and the diversification of the rural economy (axis 3) and the Leader axis (axis 4), which allows for the support of projects locally devloped.

The compromise sets minimal financing rates for each priority axis, which the Member States must respect in their programming. It should be noted that these rates have been lowered in a bid to create greater flexibility at national level when developing programmes. Therefore, the Member States must use at least 10 per cent of the Community’s financial contribution which is granted to them for measures to promote the objectives of axes 1 and 3 respectively, and 25 per cent for the programmes supporting the priorities of the second axis. With regard to the Leader axis, the Ministers agreed that the financial programming rate must not fall below 5 per cent.

Young farmers who take over farms which are not entirely within the norms and who want to implement changes by means of their management plan will benefit from a grace period of 36 months from the installation date in order to be able to adapt to the standards.

Regarding the definition of disadvantaged areas, the Ministers decided that the current provisions will remain in force until 2010.

In the forestry sector, other adjustments have been made, such as integrating this sector into cooperation with a view to developing new products, procedures and technology. The intensity of the support for the costs of tree-planting in this area have also been changed (70 per cent outside the disadvantaged areas; 80 per cent within them; 85 per cent in the Community’s ultraperipheral regions).

In the rural area, Community co-financing will now be subject to VAT, in the event that the final beneficiary cannot claim it back.

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This page was last modified on : 21-06-2005

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