POTATO CYST NEMATODES (8399/05)
Letter from Lord Rooker, Minister of State
for Sustainable Farming and Food, Department for Environment,
Food and Rural Affairs to the Chairman
I am writing to update you with developments
on the proposal for the control of potato cyst nematodes, to which
the above Explanatory Memorandum refers.
As anticipated, the Austrian Presidency have
held only a single Council Working Group, during which a detailed
read through of the text was started. The Presidency made clear
their intention to consider the conclusions arising from the UK
Presidency's Impact Assessment as an integral element of this
analysis. However, in practice only very limited progress was
made in seeking initial reactions to some of the individual Articles
in the text and responsibility will now pass to the Finnish Presidency.
At this stage, it seems unlikely that the Finnish Presidency will
be able to give priority to this issue, so significant progress
is likely to have to wait until the German Presidency in the first
half of 2007. Germany is the main proponent of the proposal, so
will wish to see it moving forward.
While it is too early to gauge the extent to
which the Impact Assessment conclusions will be addressed in an
adopted text, I can assure the Committee that support for this
objective continues to be pursued by the UK. For instance, prior
to the most recent Council Working Group, bilaterals were held
with a number of Member States who had expressed concerns about
the cost:benefit situation. The aim of these meetings was to identify
areas of common ground and to discuss strategies for influencing
The degree to which these initiatives will bear
fruit will become apparent as discussions progress and I propose
that I keep the Committee informed of further significant developments.
I will of course do this at an early stage, to ensure that the
House has an opportunity to react and respond to such developments.
As mentioned above, it is most likely that the position will start
to become clear during the German Presidency, but should progress
be achieved during the Finnish Presidency then I will of course
alert the Committee promptly.
The Committee may be interested to know that
the consultation exercise, referred to in Willy's earlier correspondence,
has proved helpful in developing the UK strategy regarding this
Proposal. Twelve written replies were received in response to
the consultation papers and there has also been input through
meetings with the main potato trade bodies and individual growers.
General concerns were raised about the cost:benefit situation
and specfic points were made in relation to the measures affecting
seed potatoes, ware potatoes and plants for planting, particularly
regarding the practicality and proportionality of such measures.
Such points are reflected in the Presidency Impact Assessment
and also provide the basis for the UK negotiating strategy adopted
by my predecessor. We will continue to involve stakeholders as
Council discussions progess, particularly as specified amendments
5 June 2006
Letter from the Chairman to Lord Rooker
Thank you for your letter dated 5 June which
Sub-Committee D (Environment and Agriculture) considered at its
meeting on 5 July.
It is disappointing that the Austrian Presidency
has not progressed further on this proposal, which seeks to improve
protection against potato cyst nematode (PCN) in those areas of
the EU which as yet remain uninfected. We note that the proposal
is unlikely to move forward before the German Presidency and we
look forward to receiving an update from you when developments
We note that your initial Regulatory Impact
Assessment concluded that implementation of the new proposal would
be likely to result in additional costs for both industry and
Government, but recognised that it would also bring benefits in
terms of reducing yield losses. We will be particularly interested
to scrutinse the cost-benefit aspects of this proposal and ask
that you ensure this information is provided when you next update
10 July 2006