EU agriculture and fisheries ministers start the first day of their meeting in Luxembourg
EU agriculture and fisheries ministers today opened a two-day meeting of the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council, attended by Minister Irena Šinko. Council conclusions were adopted on a package of measures to improve the sustainability and resilience of the EU fisheries and aquaculture sector, and ministers were briefed on a proposal for a regulation on the sustainable use of plant protection products.
The last Agriculture and Fisheries Council chaired by the Swedish Presidency opened with fisheries items. The European Commission reported on the state of play of the Common Fisheries Policy and consultations on fishing opportunities for 2024. During the discussion, Slovenia focused on management measures affecting fisheries in the Adriatic Sea. "From the point of view of Slovenian fisheries, Slovenia supports the continuation of efforts to ensure sustainable management of fishery resources," said Minister Irena Šinko, adding that it is essential to take into account the potential impact of measures on smaller fisheries sectors when preparing and implementing proposals for management measures. Ministers also adopted Council conclusions on a package of measures to improve the sustainability and resilience of the EU fisheries and aquaculture sector. Slovenia welcomes the fact that the conclusions recognise the need to take into account the specificities of the Member States, and in particular the specificities and needs of small-scale coastal fisheries, as well as smaller coastal and fishing communities engaged in traditional fisheries. "Slovenian fisheries are actively contributing to the conservation of stocks in the northern Adriatic through conservation measures at the national and regional level, but the small-scale coastal fisheries sector faces a number of challenges. Among them, the proper implementation of the energy transition of the EU fleet is crucial for us, as it is on average over 30 years old. A well-thought-out and properly funded policy and systems approach will be essential for a successful transition", Minister Šinko stressed.
The Swedish Presidency also reported on progress on the legislative proposal for a regulation on the sustainable use of plant protection products. The proposal for a regulation was presented to the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council in July last year and is currently being discussed at the level of the EU Council Working Party on Pesticides. Already during the preparation of the proposal for a regulation, a number of Member States, including Slovenia, pointed to problematic aspects of the announced proposal, including the lack of effective alternatives to chemical plant protection products and the failure to take into account the structure and intensity of agricultural production of each Member State in the targets set. The most problematic is a complete ban on the use of all plant protection products in so-called sensitive areas, which would affect 40% of agricultural land in use in Slovenia. In the debate, Minister Šinko reiterated the need to take into account the different starting points and the contribution of each country to the EU average. "Slovenia has already significantly reduced the use of plant protection products in the past and at the same time proposed a methodology for reducing the use of plant protection products that would meet the targets at the EU level. The transition to sustainable food production systems must allow agriculture to fulfil its primary role of producing food and ensuring food security."
The ministers also discussed the problems caused by the increasing population of large carnivores and the danger they pose to humans and animals, and the significant damage caused to agriculture and forestry, which can even lead to an abandonment of farming. Romania has proposed a review of the legal framework, taking into account the current status of large carnivores. In the debate, the Minister highlighted the problems with the increasing number of large carnivores in Slovenia, in particular the brown bear, the wolf and, in recent years, the jackal. She highlighted in particular the negative consequences for livestock farming. "The Ministry supports activities aimed at better management of brown bear and wolf populations. It is important to underline that the necessary financial resources for the implementation of safeguard measures are also provided outside the existing CAP funds."
Ministers also took note today of a briefing by the German delegation on the state of play regarding the ban on the breeding of animals for fur production in the legislative proposals on animal welfare and the examination of the possibility of introducing a ban on the sale and marketing of products derived from fur animals. The Council also took note of the information on the need to strengthen "One Health" cross-sectoral cooperation on zoonotic threats to health. In recent years, health risks posed by a number of infectious diseases have been on the rise.
Tomorrow, the EU ministers will continue their meeting by discussing a regulation on geographical indications and quality schemes for agricultural products, trade-related agricultural issues, adverse weather conditions, the transformation of the Farm Accountancy Data Network into a Farm Sustainability Data Network and a regulation on the labelling of organic pet food.