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EU Ministers on conditions in agricultural markets due to circumstances in Ukraine

The Minister, Ms. Irena Šinko, participated today in the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting. The EU Ministers exchanged information on conditions in agricultural markets in particular due to the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine.

They exposed impacts of increasing prices of incoming materials and of availability of fertilizers on the production and on producers in all the sectors. The Council presented guidelines on the definition of challenges and opportunities in international agricultural markets to the Commission, and was familiarized with the V4+4 Ministers’ Common Declaration on Carbon Farming. The Council reached political agreement on definition of fishing opportunities in the Baltic Sea for 2023.      

Minister Irena Šinko at  EU Agrifish Council

Minister Irena Šinko at EU Agrifish Council | Author EU Council

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The EU Ministers focused their attention on the conditions in agricultural markets, in particular due to circumstances in Ukraine. Slovenia is highly concerned at insecurity of growing prices of incoming materials, and of their availability, in particular of fertilisers, energy and animal feed. The Minister, Ms. Irena Šinko, pointed out that farmers in the livestock-breeding sector are in a most difficult situation. “Similarly, the land-cultivation sectors are facing great challenges due to high fuel and fertiliser prices.” For this reason, the aid-measures adopted to date at EU level, including the exceptional adjustment aid intended for milk producers, are of extreme importance so that further operation by farmers may be mitigated in these unforeseeable times. “In addition to this aid of EUR 5.2 million, producers in the agricultural and fisheries sectors in Slovenia obtained aid on the basis of a temporary framework for crisis management of State aids, amounting to EUR 17 million.” As the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine, and along with it the crisis, are ongoing, Slovenia, according to the Minister, supports the intention of the Commission to prolong the temporary framework for crisis management of State aids, in support of the economy, by the end of 2023.

The Council presented to the Commission the guidelines on the definition of challenges and opportunities in international agricultural markets, ensuing from the possible multilateral and bilateral trade agreements, and the simultaneous provision of protection of competitiveness of the EU agricultural sector. Transparent approach facilitates the Member States to be regularly up-dated on the state of negotiations on behalf of the EU, concerning the international trade in agricultural products with third countries.

Later, the Council was informed by Slovakia on the Common Declaration on Carbon Farming adopted by the Ministers of the Extended Visegrád Group, which was in October supported also by Slovenia. At this opportunity, the Minister Ms. Šinko pointed out that in agriculture, this issue needs to be approached in an integrated manner and, at the level of agricultural holdings, in addition to carbon sink, also the reduction of emissions needs to be taken into account, as a result of the improved management of these holdings. This is of particular importance for the livestock-breeding holdings.     

At the meeting, several Member States called on the Commission to provide for the appropriate level of funding of programmes in the veterinary sector, for the prevention of spread of communicable diseases, and in the phytosanitary sector, for the prevention of introduction and spread, and for the eradication, of quarantine harmful organisms of plants. This initiative was joined by Slovenia as well, and the Minister pointed out in this context: “These diseases may significantly impact public health and food security. For this reason, prevention is the most cost-effective method of suppression of harmful organisms, as it decreases the need for use of chemical plant protection products.” Thereafter, the EU Ministers were familiarised with the initiative of France and Germany of discontinuing at EU level the killing of male chicks. Slovenia is in agreement that this topic is linked to sustainable and responsible methods of animal breeding, and wishes in this context that new legislation would take into account all the aspects of adoption of the prohibition.

The Council was familiarised with the significance of close cooperation of Member States in preparing the EU framework for forest and strategic plan monitoring. Position of Slovenia is that harmonised and reliable data are crucial for better policies and forest-linked initiatives. “Slovenia points out in this context that long-term forest monitoring requires statistically reliable data, comparable in time and between different Member States, whilst the real-time monitoring of damage to forests through adverse weather conditions requires a different approach, principally based on remote-sensing data.”

In the context of points on fisheries, the Ministers reached a political agreement on definition of fishing opportunities in the Baltic Sea for 2023. This was done in line with the targets of the common fisheries policy, provisions of the multi-annual plan for the Baltic Sea, the available scientific opinion, and under consideration of the social-economic influence on the fisheries sector. The EU Council provided guidelines to the Commission prior to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas – ICCAT meeting to take place this year between 14 and 21 November in Portugal.