EU agriculture and fisheries ministers hold the last Council meeting under the Portuguese presidency – Slovenia takes the helm of agrifish
Today, EU agriculture and fisheries ministers finished a two-day meeting where they focused on confirming the deal on the reform of the common agricultural policy. As part of fisheries items, the ministers discussed the Communication on the state of play of the common fisheries policy and consultation on the fishing opportunities for 2020. As part of phytosanitary items, the ministers adopted a Council Decision requesting the Commission to submit a study on biological control agents (macroorganisms) of plant pests. They also discussed setting a protection goal for honey bees. Minister Jože Podgoršek attended the meeting on behalf of Slovenia. The Portuguese ministers responsible for agriculture and fisheries symbolically handed over the Presidency of the AGRIFISH Council to Minister Podgoršek. Agriculture minister also held several bilateral meetings with ministers of other EU member states.
The two-day meeting of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council was the last meeting under the Portuguese Presidency. The confirmation of the deal on the reform of the common agricultural policy (CAP) was at the forefront. The deal covers all three legislative proposals (Strategic Plans Regulation, amendments to the Regulation on the common market organisation and Horizontal Regulation).
The Portuguese ministers for fisheries and agriculture symbolically handed over the presidency of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council towards the end of the meeting. In two separate events, the minister sincerely thanked the Portuguese ministers for their exceptional and hard work in the past six months and expressed his firm belief that Slovenia would do everything in its power to continue the set tasks in the framework of the Trio Presidency (DE–PT–SI). "With a sense of awe, I will take the chair of the Council of the EU and take over a part of your energy, will, knowledge and expertise. I will gladly continue the work set out by the Trio Presidency and I will always remember our excellent cooperation."
The ministers also addressed the following topics at the Council meeting:
- The ministers adopted a Council Decision on the use of biological control agents (macroorganisms) of plant pests and requested the Commission to submit a study on the situation and options regarding the introduction, evaluation, production, marketing and use of biological control agents within the territory of the Union and a proposal, if appropriate in view of the outcomes of the study. They highlighted in the discussion the importance of a harmonised approach at the EU level in relation to the use of macroorganisms as biological control agents. They supported the preparation of a study on the safe use of macroorganisms and the assessment of the environmental and human health impact. They also invited the Commission to put forward a proposal on possible measures if necessary in view of the result of the study.
- Commissioner Sinkevičius presented to the Council the Commission's annual Communication on the state of play of the common fisheries policy and consultation on the fishing opportunities for 2020. The Communication is an important document that the Commission publishes every June or July. In the document, the Commission outlines its approach towards fixing the fishing opportunities (total allowable catch, quotas, catch limit and the limitation of the fishing effort) for the second half of the year, which is followed by the adoption of the annual regulations on fixing the fishing opportunities for the coming year. Slovenia expressed its support for the proposals aiming at the preservation and sustainable management of fishery resources and taking into account the specifics and needs of the Slovenian fisheries.
- The common position of the Council of the EU on the proposal for a regulation amending different regulations on fisheries control is the first major revision of the EU fisheries control system since the 2009 reform. The revision focuses on electronic monitoring for the purpose of control (including the landing), the control of the engine power and the revision of the system for sanctioning serious infringements of the rules of the common fisheries policy. Slovenia supported the compromise proposal.
- The ministers discussed setting a protection goal for honey bees as part of reviewing the 2013 guidance on bees from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Slovenia welcomes the approach of setting a special protection goal for honey bees in the framework of the revised guidance. This will be a clear message on the importance of protecting bees at the EU level. Slovenia advocates the 2013 level of protection and supports a single value for the allowed reduction of bee colony sizes across the EU. The scientific development of models for pesticide risk assessment for bees has to be taken into account when setting the goal and, if necessary, amending it in the future. If new findings emerge, a new revision of the guidance is necessary.
- The ministers discussed the situation on the agricultural market and welcomed the gradual reopening of the HoReCa sector and the lifting of restrictions for the free movement of people and goods due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Member states welcomed further recovery of agricultural markets after the Covid-19 pandemic.
- The European Commission provided information on the European Joint Action on Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare-Associated Infections (JAMRAI) and the state of play on the antimicrobial resistance. It highlighted the following recommendations: the revision of the public health legislation in relation to pharmaceutical activities, the establishment of new antibiotics, the strengthening of the new agency in the field of preparedness and response and the review of action plans on antimicrobial resistance. Member states agreed that antimicrobial resistance is an important topic and that it is necessary to strengthen the One Health
- The Portuguese Presidency reported on key findings from the report entitled Food supplements – a way forward. The Commission also provided information on the timely preparation and adoption of the programmes for the implementation of the future European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF) with the aim of maximising the added value of public investment in fisheries and aquaculture in the framework of the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund programme. It also reported on the implementation of the Maritime Spatial Planning Directive.