Select Committee on European Communities Second Report


Letter from the Rt Hon Joyce Quin MP, Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, to Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee

  You may recall my predecessor, Bernard Donoughue, wrote to you on 31 March 1999[7] in response to your earlier letter of 11 March 1999 in which you expressed the concerns Sub-Committee D had about the above proposal. He promised to keep you informed as matters progress and I am now in a position to be able to do so.

  The proposal has since been discussed at three Working Group meetings in May, July and October and also in the Special Committee on Agriculture (SCA) in June, July and November. More recently, political agreement on the proposal was reached on the basis of a compromise at Agriculture Council on 15-16 November. It is now expected that the Council Regulation will be adopted as an "A" point at a subsequent Council.

  The Committee's concern about any resulting Regulation being efficient and cost-effective was reflected in the comments of many Member States and modifications were secured. In particular, the Commission's original suggestion to act directly through a complex consultation procedure was, in part, replaced, at UK suggestion, by a single joint Management Committee to which activities would be referred for opinion and decision.

  As stated in Bernard's earlier letter to you, it is inevitable that some producers will benefit from more support than others due to the nature of their produce, but the creation of the joint Committee with powers of approval over the total budget allocations and monitoring of the results will ensure a more impartial oversight and better targeting than the original proposal.

  Your Committee was also concerned about the concentration on generic promotion as opposed to the promotion of specific branded products. This point was thoroughly aired and, as a result, the Commission has given a written statement that "measures may envisage the presentation of a broad range of European products, including brand names, but the latter will obviously not predominate". This allows a degree of balance to be brought into what must essentially be generic promotion campaigns.

  Finally, the Committee will wish to note that we have also negotiated the inclusion of a time limit of 31 December 2004 into the Regulation. The effect of this will ensure that the Commission presents to Council and the European Parliament a full report on the application and effectiveness of this Regulation.

30 November 1999

7   Printed in Correspondence with Ministers, 17th Report, Session 1998-99, HL Paper 94, p 43. Back

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