Katrina Williams, Deputy Permanent Representative to the European Union, represented the UK at Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Luxembourg on 14-15 October.
The main item on fisheries policy was fixing the 2020 fishing opportunities in the Baltic Sea. Member States agreed on the total allowable catches (TACs) and quotas for the ten most commercially important fish stocks in the Baltic Sea. The Council also agreed to supplement the existing partial general approach on the proposal for the next European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) post-2020. Elements relating to the monitoring and evaluation of the EMFF were added to the Council’s mandate for its negotiations with the European Parliament.
Member States exchanged views on the EU position for the annual consultation with Norway on the framework of the bilateral fisheries agreement for 2020. The UK intervened in the debate, highlighting the importance of managing joint stocks with Norway in a sustainable way. The Council also exchanged views on the annual meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), scheduled for 18-25 November 2019 in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.
On agriculture, Member States discussed the progress report on the work relating to the post-2020 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform package. During the debate, the French delegation presented a common paper on the CAP budget on behalf of a number of Member States. Their proposal to maintain the CAP budget at the current EU27 level under the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) received support from a number of delegations.
The Commission updated Member States about the latest developments in the most important agricultural markets. Ministers welcomed the outlook in the main market segments, but expressed concerns about the difficulties in the sugar, olive and table olives, beef and rice sectors. In conjunction with the agenda item, the Italian delegation informed the Council on the damage caused by the Asian stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) to its fruit and vegetables sector.
Member States also discussed the potential effects of the recent announcement of the United States to impose additional duties on a list of EU agrifood products as a consequence of the Airbus World Trade Organisation (WTO) judgement. The UK called for a united approach to achieve a negotiated settlement. Commissioner Hogan underscored the Commission’s commitment to protect EU food production and Geographical Indications (GIs), including through intervention and the promotion of aid if necessary.
On forestry, Member States held an exchange of views on the Commission’s communication on stepping up EU action to protect and restore the world’s forests. Together with other members of the Amsterdam Declaration Partnership, the UK highlighted the need for action and outlined its own initiatives. The Council also held an exchange of views on the EU Forest Strategy post-2020 and was informed about a joint statement by various Member States on sustainable forestry.
Further items were discussed under ‘any other business’: