AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES COUNCILJULY
Letter from Rt Hon David Miliband MP,
Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural
Affairs to the Chairman
In light of the Parliamentary recess, I am writing
to you in place of the usual written statement to summarise what
happened at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting in Brussels
on 18 July 2006.
I represented the United Kingdom at the July
Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting in Brussels.
The Chairman of the Council began by setting
out the Finnish Presidency work programme for the next six months.
It includes progressing work on organic food and farming; spirit
drinks, work on wine and banana sector reforms; energy crops;
forest strategy; Community animal health strategy; fisheries total
Allowable Catches and quotas and Common Fisheries Policy simplification.
The Agriculture Commissioner presented the Co
mission's Communication on the reform of the wine sector in the
EU analysing the situation on the EU wine market and setting out
various options for the reform of the current regime. Following
the presentation, the Council held its first discussion on the
basis of two questions drawn up by the Presidency. I welcomed
the Commission analysis stressing that the current regime is unsustainable.
I also said that further debate was necessary to achieve a reform
that would allow efficient producers to thrive.
The Agriculture Commissioner gave a progress
report on the WTO agricultural negotiations. She stressed that
the EU offer from last October still remained on the table and
underlined that that it would be better for EU to achieve a balanced
deal now than no deal at all. Along with a number of Member States,
I expressed our support for the Commission and its tactics in
the WTO negotiations.
The Council held a policy debate on Commission
proposal laying down rules for voluntary modulation in light of
the December 2005 European Council future financing agreement
for 2007-13. This proposal sets out the terms by which Member
States can voluntarily modulate from pillar 1 of the Common Agricultural
Policy (direct payments) to pillar 2 (rural development). I argued
the need for flexibility in the proposal, in particular to allow
for voluntary modulation to continue to operate on a regional
basis and without a franchise and on whether to apply the rules
on minimum spends.
Under any other business; the Fisheries Commissioner
updated the Council on developments in the negotiations concerning
EC/Mauritania fisheries agreement and asked for Council agreement
to a swift adoption process once the agreement has been initialled.
France raised concerns about the social and
economic impact of a ban on anchovy fishing in the Bay of Biscay.
The Commission reiterated its position that the fishery should
remain closed and said that it would examine the possibility of
financial aid for affected fishermen.
Austria, supported by 16 other Member States,
drew the Council's attention to various difficulties in the Commission's
proposed changes to the agricultural state aids rules.
The Council took note without discussion of
a written update from the Commission on the latest developments
with regard to Avian Influenza H5N1.
The Finnish Presidency announced that their
iInformal meeting of Agriculture Ministers would take place from
24-26 September; it will focus on the European Model of Agriculture
and CAP reform.
25 July 2006