Fisheries political agreements and CAP health check on focus at the last Agriculture and Fisheries Council

French Minister Michel Barnier chaired the third Agriculture and Fisheries Council of the French Presidency, which was held between October 27th and 28th, in Luxembourg. Major issues such as milk quotas, market intervention or some political agreements on fishing opportunities were at stake.

This Council was dominated by four political agreements reached in the area of fisheries, and by trilateral meetings (Presidency/European Commission/Member State format) on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) health check.

Member States were invited this time to outline their position on a number of major political points, such as modulation, the reallocation of funds within the first pillar (article 68), milk quotas and market intervention.

The outcome of these meetings will be taken into account in preparing the final compromise which should be adopted at November’s Council, once the European Parliament has given its opinion. A second debate was also held on the proposal for a school fruit distribution scheme, showing further convergence between Member States on the Commission’s amended proposal.

The Commission’s proposal aimed at stepping up the fight against illegal trade in wood was presented to the Council and will be debated later.

With regard to fishing, the Council reached a political agreement on the fishing opportunities in the Baltic Sea, in the Black Sea and deep-sea fishing opportunities. There was also an exchange of views on the fishing agreement with Norway, in order to prepare the first round of consultations scheduled to take place at the start of November in Bergen. The Council also reached agreement on the common position to take with regard to the meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas. This is the first common position of its type at the Council.

Under other business, the Commission presented its green paper on agricultural product quality, which will be discussed in an expert group meeting in November. The Presidency, echoing the requests made by more than 15 Member States at the previous Council, sought information on the progress made with regard to the financing of the 2009 bluetongue vaccination campaign and the measures envisaged for the movement of vaccinated animals.

The Presidency asked the Commission to reflect on how existing instruments could be used to respond to the various agricultural sector difficulties evoked by several Member States.

The Commission reaffirmed its financial support for the vaccination of ruminants against bluetongue in the European Union, proposing to allocate an additional 100 M€, bringing the total to 160 M€ for 2009.