Today we had key discussions on the future of our agriculture and fisheries. In the years to come both sectors will not only have to keep ensuring food security for Europe, but also meet the challenges of sustainability, innovation and generational renewal. The Council wants to make sure that both sectors are equipped with the right tools and financial resources to face these challenges.
Rumen Porodzanov, minister of agriculture, food and forestry of the Republic of Bulgaria and president of the Council.
European Maritime and Fisheries Fund
The Commission presented its proposal for a new European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) worth €6.14 billion to invest in the maritime economy and support fishing communities and ministers had the opportunity to react to the proposal. Ministers welcomed the proposal and identified real simplification and flexibility for member states as key issues.
The Commission presented to the Council its proposal simplifying and improving existing measures on fisheries control. The proposal aims at ensuring full compliance with the Common Fisheries Policy and the achievement of its objectives.
In their interventions ministers highlighted the need to simplify the current system without additional administrative burden and touched on the possibility of obtaining financial support for the e-solutions contained in the proposal.
Fishing opportunities for 2019
The Council was briefed on a Commission communication on the state of play of the Common Fisheries Policy and on the consultation on the fishing opportunities for 2019.
Member states generally welcomed the communication but highlighted the difficulties linked to the full implementation of the landing obligation, in particular as regards choke species, and the vulnerability of the small-scale fisheries despite the overall improvement in the economic performance.
The Commission communication on fishing opportunities kick-starts the annual exercise of fixing total allowable catches (TACs) and national quotas for the following year. TACs for the Baltic Sea will be set in October, for deep sea species in November, and for the North Sea in December 2018.
Post 2020 CAP reform package
The Council had the opportunity of a first formal exchange of views on the Commission proposals to reform the Common Agricultural Policy after 2020. The proposals, presented on 1st June, outline a new delivery model for the CAP in which member states would have more flexibility to tailor make their decisions and adapt them to local circumstances.
Ministers welcomed various elements of the proposals but expressed concerns about the cuts proposed by the Commission to the CAP budget in general and rural development in particular, and were sceptical as to the capacity of the new CAP to deliver genuine simplification for national authorities and farmers. During the debate ministers were also informed about a memorandum on the CAP budget in the context of the next MFF signed by several member states and about the decreasing availability of water for agriculture in Cyprus.
The Commission updated the Council on the latest developments in the most important agricultural markets, in particular the dairy, sugar and pig meat markets.
Ministers welcomed the generally positive economic situation and outlook in the main market segments, but also expressed their concerns as to the difficult situation of the pig meat sector in Poland and the EU in general, the persistently high level of EU intervention stocks of skimmed milk powder, and the import duties recently imposed by the US authorities on Spanish table olives.
Other topics on the agenda
Ministers were also informed about various issues:
- the ICES advice on the ecological and environmental effects of pulse fishing in the North Sea
- the protection of honeybees and other pollinators
- the BIOEAST initiative in the field of knowledge-based agriculture, aquaculture and forestry in the bioeconomy