AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES COUNCILSEPTEMBER
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 September 2006.
I represented the United Kingdom for the morning
session and the Deputy Permanent Representative to the European
Union represented the United Kingdom for the rest of the day.
The Council held a discussion, based on a Presidency
questionnaire, on the Commission's Communication on the reform
of the wine sector in the EU. All Member States agreed the need
for reform but there were differences about its scope and depth.
I stressed the need for a progressive, liberalising reform to
improve competitiveness and sustainability and enable the industry
to respond to market needs.
The Environment Commissioner and the Health
and Consumer Protection Commissioner presented two proposals on
pesticides, designed to enhance the regulatory system governing
pesticide authorisation and use.
In the absence of a qualified majority in favour
or against, the Council was unable to reach decisions on the Commission's
proposal to authorise the use of a specific type of GM oilseed
rape in animal feed. In the absence of Council decisions, therefore,
the Commission is now free to implement its proposals under its
A large number of issues, as follows, were raised
under any other business.
The Council took note without discussion of
a written update from the Commission on the Avian influenza outbreak.
Belgium asked for consideration to be given
to easing the restrictions which apply in the case of a Bluetongue
Belgium also informed the Commission of the
action it had taken following agricultural damage caused by adverse
weather conditions in July and August.
Denmark, supported by 11 other Member States
including the UK, argued that the current school milk scheme needed
reforming to encourage consumption of low fat milk and dairy products
to bring it into line with modern nutritional advice. The Commission
said the scheme was under review.
Greece supported by Spain, requested help for
olive growing areas affected by July's forest fires. The Commission
recommended that both Member States apply to the EU solidarity
fund or use provisions in the Rural Development Regulation.
Lithuania, supported by eight other Member States,
asked to re-open the debate on the Commission's communication
of 2005 on risk and crisis management in agriculture.
France expressed concerns about WTO agricultural
negotiations. The Agriculture Commissioner reported that there
had been no significant developments since the suspension of the
Hungary supported by six other Member States
expressed concern about the Commission's proposed plans to tighten
the quality standards for maize bought into Community intervention.
Germany raised concerns about the draft text
of the Rural Development Implementing Regulation, specifically
the requirements relating to the payment of Member State top ups.
The Finnish Presidency announced that their
Informal meeting of Agriculture Ministers would take place from
24-26 September; it will focus on the European Model of Agriculture
and the future of the CAP.
30 September 2006