April Agriculture and Fisheries Council

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written statement – made on 25th April 2016.

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Photo of Elizabeth Truss Elizabeth Truss The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

My Hon friend, the Minister of State for Farming, Food and Marine Environment (George Eustice), represented the UK at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 11 April in Luxembourg.

Two fisheries items were presented. Firstly by the Presidency, on the framework for the collection, management and use of data in the fisheries sector. Commissioner Vella, DG Environment, presented the second item on the proposal on the conservation of fishery resources and the protection of marine ecosystems through technical measures. Most Member States, including the UK, welcomed moves to increase regionalisation and to simplify the legislation. The UK and Denmark mentioned the need to allow enough flexibility to take account of the development of new technologies and techniques.

Moving on to Agriculture, Commissioner Katainen, DG SANTE, explained that there are opportunities for agriculture in the fund for investment and innovation for 2015-2018 in particular through the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI). Member States generally welcomed the further financing options and were keen to explore how EFSI could be used.

Commissioner Hogan, DG Agriculture, updated Member States on the market situation support measures. During this agenda item four related AOBs were addressed: the crisis in the dairy market; the modification of the implementation rules to be provided for the planned support scheme for the fruit and vegetable producers with regard to the embargo established by the Russian Federation; the extension of the final date for submission of aid applications; and, pig meat exports to the Russian Federation.

There was a full round of interventions from Member States who maintained their existing positions on the market crisis. The UK, Denmark and Sweden stressed the need for longer term solutions, many of which are already underway such as the opening of new markets with international trade deals. The UK also referenced the work it is progressing with the European Investment Bank to help farmers manage global price volatility and manage risk.

Any other business items

Germany introduced the AOB item on combating food fraud in the EU, which was an update on a joint project undertaken by Europol and Interpol. There was support for the paper by 13 Member States, including the UK.

Austria, supported by 12 other Member States, tabled an item on the negotiation of the Association Agreement between the European Union and Mercosur. The Commission highlighted the benefits of new trade deals and noted a new impact assessment is being prepared.

Luxembourg introduced an item on the 38th Conference of EU Paying Agencies where it was concluded that audit procedures needed to be stabilised and longer term simplification needs to continue. The UK intervened, echoing calls for more proportional sanctions and simpler audits.

Lithuania presented the outcome of the political forum on Rethinking the Food Supply Chain. It concluded that national laws should be used to strengthen supply chains.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS674