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EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council discusses environmental and climate aspects of the Common Agricultural Policy beyond 2020

At the meeting of the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council attended by State Secretary Dr Jože Podgoršek, the ministers discussed the environmental and climate aspects of the common agricultural policy (CAP) beyond 2020. The Commission put before the Member States two proposals for regulations laying down the CAP transitional provisions that would ensure continuity in terms of policy implementation and the granting of support to farmers in 2021.

At the meeting, European ministers of agriculture continued July's discussion on the environmental and climate aspects of the legislative package on the common agricultural policy (CAP) for the 2021–2027 period. Slovenia supports higher climate and environmental CAP ambitions but stresses that the new system should be better adapted to conditions in individual Member States and take into consideration their specific problems as well as be easy to implement. In the discussion, State Secretary Dr Jože Podgoršek welcomed the progress made in the green architecture of the CAP reform, particularly as regards flexibility when it comes to land in good agricultural and environmental condition. "For Slovenia, the compromise solution involving simplified control and sanctions for small farmers is also acceptable; however, when it comes to traceability and consumer trust, we are sceptical about the elimination of statutory management requirements pertaining to the identification and recording of animals."

The Finnish Presidency put forward a proposal introducing a single percentage under the strategic plan for funds allocated to environmental and climate actions that Slovenia could support as the proposal allows Member States greater flexibility in terms of the range of interventions from the first or second pillar, or both pillars. "For Slovenia, it is key that the single percentage for the entire strategic plan corresponds to the level from the Commission's initial proposal of 30% of rural development funding. The range of interventions for achieving the total percentage must include payments for areas with natural constraints; moreover, it would be sensible to take into account a certain percentage of the basic income payment for sustainability as conditionality will become increasingly complex in the future", the State Secretary stressed in the discussion. He thanked the Presidency for complying with Slovenia's wish to include the contribution of first-pillar eco-schemes and sectoral interventions.

Today, the ministers also exchanged views on the Commission's proposal on the CAP transitional provisions, as the new rules are likely to enter into force with a delay. "A timely adoption of transitional provisions is of paramount importance to ensure continuous policy implementation until the Member States' strategic plans are adopted. However, given how the discussions on the CAP package are going, one wonders if the transitional period should be even longer than one year", said State Secretary Podgoršek in the discussion.

On Hungary's initiative, the ministers discussed the growing problems of the beekeeping sector that are associated with the decrease in bee populations. Slovenia has joined calls for adopting bee preservation measures, particularly the EU action plan to combat bee mortality and increase funding for the development of innovative medicines and procedures for the treatment of bee colonies. "The maintenance of bee populations significantly contributes to the conservation of ecological balance and biodiversity, while a large part of agricultural production is dependent on pollination. Furthermore, we support Hungary on the labelling of the origin of honey, particularly in relation to mixtures of honeys from various EU Member States or third countries. Labelling is vital to ensuring traceability and consumer trust in safe food", stressed the State Secretary.

At the end of the meeting, the Commission reported to the Member States on the conclusion of EU-China negotiations on the agreement concerning the protection of products with geographical indications. Slovenia believes that this agreement will strengthen economic cooperation between the EU and China and consolidate consumer trust on both sides.