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PRESS

EN

Council of the European Union

BACKGROUND1
Brussels, 14 July 2016

AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES COUNCIL


18 July 2016 in Brussels

The Council meeting will address agricultural matters only; it will start at 11.00 on Monday 18 July
2016 and will be chaired by Ms Gabriela Maten, Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development
of Slovakia.
Firstly the Presidency will present its work programme and its priorities as regards agriculture
and fisheries.
As an any other business item, the Presidency will then report on the outcome of the conference
on "Strengthening of the farmers' position in the food supply chain" which took place in
Bratislava on 30 June - 1July 2016.
Next the Commission will be invited to update the Council on the market situation, notably in the
dairy, pigmeat and fruit and vegetables sectors, and on the state of implementation of support
measures. The Council is due to discuss and endorse a package of support measures that will
be unveiled by Commissioner Hogan at the meeting. The any other business point on drought in
Poland will also be discussed jointly with the market situation.
As any other business, ministers will be informed about the fires in Cyprus and subsequently on
the difficulties arising from the prohibition of the use of potassium phosphates in organic
agriculture.
Ministers will also be briefed by the Commission on the state of play on international agricultural
trade issues. There are important issues at stake for European agriculture in the ongoing trade
negotiations with third countries. This matter will be considered jointly with another AoB point on
rice imports from EBA countries requested by Italy.
Furthermore the Commission will inform the Council about its report on the first year of
implementation of greening measures, including the results of the public consultation exercise.
Ministers will have an exchange of views on related simplification proposals.
A press conference will be held at the end of the meeting (at around 18.55).
*

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AGRICULTURE
Presidency work programme
Slovak Presidency will present its work programme and outline its main priorities in the agriculture
and fisheries sectors.
Within the Agriculture and Fisheries Council, the Slovak Presidency will look at ways to strengthen
the position of farmers in the food supply chain, with the intention of adopting Council conclusions
on this issue. Owing to the protracted crisis in the agricultural markets, especially in the dairy and
pigmeat sectors, it plans to monitor the situation on the agricultural commodities market and
discuss the need for measures to stabilise the markets. The Presidency will also aim to evaluate
the progress made on simplifying the common agricultural policy, and to make progress in
negotiations on the proposed regulation on organic farming and labelling of organic products. It will
also pay attention to forests and forestry. In this context, it intends to help implement the EU Forest
Strategy, in particular as regards the guiding principle of global forest responsibility.
Finally in the fisheries policy sector, the Slovak Presidency will focus on annual fishing quotas. The
Presidency's ambition is to reach a political agreement on individual regulations on the Baltic Sea,
the Black Sea, and other stocks.
Market situation
The Commission will be invited to provide a further update on the market situation, notably in the
dairy, pigmeat and fruit and vegetables sectors, and the state of implementation of support
measures. The Council is due to discuss the package of support measures that will be unveiled by
Commissioner Hogan, as announced by the Commission at the June Council meeting (11022/16).
The AoB point on drought in Poland will also be considered jointly with the market situation, see
below in this document.
Following a continued crisis affecting several agricultural sectors - notably the dairy, pigmeat and
fruit and vegetables ones - the Council endorsed a 500 million package of support measures for
farmers in September 2015 (mainly direct aid) and a second package in March 2016 (7108/16).
The latter featured mainly budget neutral instruments such as the voluntary and temporary
reduction of milk production and a temporary relaxation of state aid rules in case of Member
States' support to farmers.
Since the March AGRIFISH Council, the agreed measures were swiftly implemented and ministers
have been keeping developments in the market situation under close scrutiny. Furthermore,
additional initiatives were undertaken by the Commission. Among others the doubling of the
quantitative ceilings for buying in skimmed milk powder and butter at a fixed price in the context of
public intervention and the proposal for a further increase thereof, the announcement of the
extension of the deadline by which member states may make CAP direct payments without
reduction in the rate of reimbursement from the EU to the Member State to 15 October, the
adoption of a delegated regulation setting further exceptional and temporary support measures for
the fruit and vegetables sector.
At the Council meeting in June 2016, many ministers expressed continued concern about the
current market downturn and stressed the need to alleviate the condition of European farmers and
help the sustainability of the most affected sectors. Ministers generally agreed on the need to
consider further concrete measures as soon as possible. The Presidency called upon the
Commission to come forward with proposals, including financial support, at the following Council
meeting in July. The Commission confirmed that they were working on additional measures and
expected to be able to present them at the July Council.

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Simplification of the Common Agricultural Policy: review of greening


The Commission will inform the Council about its report on the first year of implementation of
greening measures, including the results of the public consultation exercise. The following debate
will focus in particular on ongoing and future simplification efforts in the field (11025/16).
CAP simplification is part of the EU's overall strategy to streamline and reduce EU legislation
wherever possible. In this context, the EU institutions decided to look at what has been agreed in
the latest CAP reform and propose improvements achievable in the short and medium term.
The Council adopted conclusions on the issue in May 2015 emphasising that, in implementing the
CAP, greater account should be taken of the subsidiarity and proportionality principles.
It also recalled the main principles to be respected in this process:

preserve the policy objectives and the main elements of the reformed CAP,
ensure the sound financial management of EU funds,
focus on areas where those implementing the CAP and its beneficiaries would benefit most,
improve the clarity and consistency of legislation.

The Council also discussed simplification at its meeting in May 2016, with a special focus on direct
payments and market measures.
International agricultural trade issues
The Commission will update ministers on international agricultural trade issues. It will report on the
latest developments in agricultural trade and the EU commitment to opening up new world markets
and to promoting EU agricultural products (11023/16). Particular attention will be given to bilateral
and multilateral free trade negotiations, their substance, state of play and possible outcome. These
include on-going negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), with
Mercosur, Japan and the Philippines; and future negotiations with Indonesia, Australia and New
Zealand and Malaysia.
Ministers will have the opportunity to assess the impact of EU's ongoing and upcoming free trade
negotiations and agreements on the general agricultural policies.
An any other business point on rice will also be considered jointly with the international agricultural
trade issues, see below in this document.
On several occasions ministers have pointed out the need for the Council to be regularly updated
on the state of play of international trade negotiations with third countries and regional bodies in
which the EU is involved, in particular when those negotiations include agricultural issues.
The Commission provided the Agriculture Council with an update on trade negotiations and
agriculture-related issues in February 2016 and through any other business points in April and May
2016. In addition, the Special Committee on Agriculture (SCA) is regularly briefed on these issues.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS
Outcome of the conference on "Strengthening of the farmers' position in the food supply
chain (Bratislava, 30 June - 1July 2016)
The Presidency will report on the outcome of the conference, whose aim was to evaluate the
status and bargaining power of farmers in the food supply chain, to analyse key factors influencing
the distribution of economic power in the chain, and to discuss possible measures likely to lead to
its long-term sustainability (11099/16). One of the main conclusions of the conference was that
there is a need to strengthen the farmers' position as the weakest link in the food supply chain and
that legislation at European level would help tackle unfair trading practices.

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The conference prepared the ground for the Informal meeting of ministers taking place in
Bratislava from 11 to 13 September 2016, which will discuss the same topic.
Catastrophic fires in Cyprus
At the request of the Cyprus delegation, ministers will discuss the situation arising in the island as
a consequence of severe drought and a number of wildfires that broke out in the month of June
(10657/16).
Drought and its impact on arable crops in Poland
Poland will inform the Council about the agricultural drought that hit the country in May and June
2016, and particularly the production of winter and spring cereals, fruits shrubs, legumes oilseed
rape, turnip rape and strawberries (11125/16). The Polish delegation will also request protective
measures to face the situation.
This point will be discussed in the context of the wider discussion on the market situation.
Rice
The Italian delegation will raise the issue of duty free imports of indica rice from Cambodia and
Myanmar. The Commission will be invited to report to the Council on its contacts with Cambodia to
discuss with local authorities about the issue of rice import flows (11144/16).
This point will be discussed in the context of the international agricultural trade issues.
Phosphonates in organics
The Czech Republic will inform ministers on the difficulties arising from the prohibition of the use of
potassium phosphonates in organic agriculture and its impact particularly on wine growers, fruit
growers but also other vegetables producers (11115/16). The Czech Republic will also argue for a
review of the European legislation on organic production in relation to residues by the European
Commission, in view of the positive advice of the expert group for technical advice on organic
production (EGTOP).

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