25/03/2014 - Agriculture and Fisheries Council (AGRI)
Council debates renewed measures to promote EU agricultural products
Meeting on 24 March, the Agriculture and Fisheries Council discussed the promotion of agricultural products and labelling of origin for meat products
Promotion of agricultural products
Ministers held a policy debate on a proposed regulation on information provision and promotion measures for agricultural products. The proposal, which was also discussed at the last Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting in February, aims to renew the EU's promotion policy in line with the reformed Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
During the discussions, most member states gave their support to a presidency compromise proposal, and also to the increase of the EU financing rate. The Special Committee on Agriculture will now examine amendments proposed by the European Parliament. It will then give the presidency a mandate to negotiate with the Parliament, with the aim of adopting the final proposal before the end of the Parliament's term.
Labelling of origin for meat used as an ingredient
The Commission presented a report, published in December 2013, on the possible extension of mandatory origin labelling for all meat used as an ingredient. The report examines the need for consumers to be informed and the feasibility of mandatory origin labelling. It also analyses the potential impact on the single market and on international trade.
Discussions at the Council showed that there are still differing views on the 3 origin labelling scenarios presented in the report. Many delegations are in favour of introducing a mandatory labelling, but some would like an indication of the specific EU or non-EU country, while some others would prefer a general indication of EU/ non-EU origin. Some others want to maintain the status quo - i.e. keeping origin labelling on a voluntary basis.
The report will now be examined further in the Council's preparatory bodies.
Organic farming proposal
Ministers were briefed by the Commission on a proposal to review the legal framework of organic production and farming in Europe. The new proposal includes:
- harmonised production rules
- the requirement for agricultural ingredients in organic processed products to be exclusively organic
- a requirement for organic operators other than farmers to develop a system to improve their environmental performance
- a single legislative text detailing the control system
- a group certification system for small-scale farmers in the EU
- specific provisions for enhanced traceability and fraud prevention
Other topics on the agenda
Ministers took note of the Coastal States consultations on mackerel and EU-Norway bilateral consultations. The Commission reported to the Council on the 5-year arrangement for mackerel in the North-East Atlantic, reached on 12 March between the EU, the Faroe Islands and Norway. The Council also reached agreement on the 2014 total allowable catch (TAC) for sandeel.
Ministers held a debate on the future of the dairy sector in the context of the end of milk quota system in 2015. The Council also took stock of a report on the fruit and vegetables sector since the 2007 reform.
Ministers also discussed:
- an initiative to promote honey as part of schoolchildren's' breakfast
- the outcome of the Global Forum on Family Farming, in Budapest on 4-6 March
- the difficulties facing the EU rice sector due increasing imports of milled rice
- trade measures to fight illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing