Agriculture and Fisheries Council
At today’s Agriculture and Fisheries Council, Slovenia was represented by Deputy Permanent Representative in Brussels Tamara Weingerl Požar and Head of the Special Committee on Agriculture at the Permanent Representation of the Republic of Slovenia in Brussels Simona Vrevc. Ministers focused in particular on the situation on agricultural markets in view of the war in Ukraine. The Council took note of the European Commission's communication on the state of implementation of the EU’s common fisheries policy and consultations for fishing opportunities for 2023.
In the morning, the Commission presented to the ministers its communication on the state of implementation of the EU's common fisheries policy and consultations for fishing opportunities for 2023 (total allowable catch, quotas, catch limit and the limitation of the fishing effort) for the second half of the year when annual regulations on fixing the fishing opportunities for the coming year are adopted. The target fishing species of Slovenian fishermen are not the fishing species that are managed under the regime for limiting fishing opportunities. What is important for the Slovenian fisheries sector are some catch limits for the Mediterranean and the Adriatic Sea, which stem from the multiannual management plan for small pelagic species in the Adriatic Sea and the multiannual management plan for demersal species in the Adriatic Sea.
Ministers began the afternoon part of the session by taking note of the report by the French Presidency on the state of progress of the regulation on EU geographical indications for wine, spirits and agricultural products, and quality schemes for agricultural products. The proposal pursues the following general goals: ensuring effective protection of intellectual property rights in the EU, including efficient registration processes, and increasing the uptake of geographical indications across the EU to benefit the rural economy.
Ministers then exchanged views on the situation on agricultural markets and food supply in light of the war in Ukraine. This is a regular item on the agenda of all meetings of agriculture ministers due to the significant impact of the Russian aggression on Ukraine on agricultural markets. The discussion revolved around the implementation of measures that have already been adopted at the EU level, in particular the exceptional measure in line with Article 219 of the CMO Regulation. The Commission will allocate EUR 500 million for this purpose. Member states will be able to complement these funds with co-financing of up to 200%. This will enable them to help the most affected sectors. The funds are allocated to member states on the basis of the direct payment envelope. This means that Slovenia will receive EUR 1,746,390 of funds. The eligibility period begins with the date of application of the regulation and expires on 30 September 2022 when payments must be effected. Member states called for the adoption of exceptions to the implementation of the rules of the common agricultural policy for 2023 as adopted this year. This concerns the possibility of using fallow land and exceptions to the GAEC provisions for crop rotation.
The Commission briefed the ministers on the publication of a proposal for a transitional regulation, which will enable the adoption of emergency response measures under current rural development programmes (RDP). It foresees the allocation of a one-off support in the amount of EUR 15,000 for farms and up to EUR 100,000 for small and medium-sized enterprises, which are most affected by high input costs. The unused funds from RDP would be used for this purpose. The extent of such support will be limited to 5% of the RDP funds for the 2014–2022 period (funds for 2021 and 2022). Payments must be effected by 31 October 2023 at the latest. The Commission called on member states to consider the need to review some of their initial proposals on strategic plans for the new common agricultural policy, taking into account the impact of the war in Ukraine. In this context, it will be necessary to consider enhancing the parts of the plans aimed at improving the resilience of the sector.
Slovenia has been actively monitoring the rising costs of inputs and, consequently, a high growth of buying-in prices for agricultural products. The rising costs of input materials and their limited availability can cause delays in the investment done by agricultural holdings and market operations. The potential loss of the purchasing power caused by inflation will limit the possibility of producers to fully pass on the increased costs to the final price of the product. Since Slovenia depends on the supply of chemical fertilisers from the Russian Federation, the lack or the disruption in the supply of inputs is also worrying.
The Commission also reported on the state of progress of a report on the application of EU health and environmental standards to imported agricultural products. The goals of the European Green Deal and, in particular, the Farm to Fork Strategy are ambitious and will have a significant global impact, while requiring additional effort from European food producers. Numerous member states, including Slovenia, continue to stress in Council discussions that the EU must ensure that trade agreements include provisions preventing European agriculture and agri-food sector from being subject to unfair competition due to lower production standards in trade partners from third countries.
The Commission provided information on the state of play regarding the African swine fewer. Good cooperation between all stakeholders and competent authorities remains vital for controlling and preventing the spread of the disease. In 2020, Slovenia adopted a law providing legal bases and obliging all stakeholders and competent authorities to take joint action. It applies both to protective measures and biosecurity, as well as to measures taken after the disease is confirmed.