Czech Presidency Prioritises LFA Reform and Future of the CAP
The Czech Presidency, which took over the six month rotating EU Presidency from France in January, has presented four priorities for its work on agricultural policy to the end of June 2009. These include an attempt to advance discussions on the reform of the Less Favoured Area (LFA) measure and the future of the CAP. Neither is likely to pass without controversy. Agricultural product quality policy and the further simplification of the CAP also sit high on the Presidency’s agenda, as set out in its Work Programme and published priorities for agriculture. Each priority, and the key associated dates, are discussed briefly below.
‘Common Agricultural Policy Reform and the Future Form of Direct Payments’
The most politically volatile of the Presidency’s priorities is likely to be its commitment to stimulate a debate ‘on the search for instruments of the future CAP that will lead to a more effective use of financial resources’. These discussions follow on from those initiated by the French Presidency and are connected to the ongoing review of the EU budget. The Czechs seem likely to argue in favour of greater equality in the value of direct payments across the Member States and for greater consistency in their method of disbursement, perhaps seeking to reduce the range of payment models currently in operation.
The EU’s farm ministers will engage in discussions at the informal meeting scheduled to take place in Brno between 31 May and 2 June (a). It is likely the Presidency will publish a short paper in advance of the meeting, in which it will raise a number of key questions for discussion. The intended outcome is the publication of Council Conclusions on the ‘Future of the CAP and Rural Development’, provisionally scheduled for presentation at the 22 – 23 June Agriculture Council.
‘Development of Rural Areas and Delimitation of Less Favoured Areas (LFAs)’
With the deadline of 1 January 2010 for Member States to introduce new LFA schemes fast approaching, the Czech Presidency’s most time-critical priority is to progress towards a workable set of legislative proposals on the revision of the ‘Intermediate LFA’ delimitation criteria. The Presidency plans to ‘initiate further discussion’ based on the Commission’s ‘Communication on the review of the Less Favoured Areas Schemes (delimitation of designated areas)’, which is expected to be published in early April. An exchange of views is scheduled to take place at the 23 - 24 April Council. A policy debate will be held at the final Council of the Czech Presidency on 22 – 23 June, with the aim of reaching Council Conclusions.
‘Agricultural Product and Foodstuffs Quality Policy’
The Presidency’s work on agricultural product quality will build on last year’s Green Paper and stakeholder consultation (for details see the DG Agri webpage). The Presidency is placing some emphasis on supporting and promoting the further development of the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and Protected Geographical Indications (PGI) systems, and in reducing the administrative burden and time taken to complete assessment procedures for designating new products.
The Presidency is organising a high level conference to advance discussions, which is due to take place in Prague on 12 – 13 March. The Commission is then due to present the main elements of its ‘Communication on Agricultural Product Quality Policy’ at the 25 – 26 May Council. It will then be the task of the Presidency to solicit Council Conclusions on the dossier at the June Agriculture Council.
‘Simplification of the Common Agricultural Policy’
As the ‘CAP Simplification Action Plan’ was set up in 2005 as an ongoing process it is timely for the Czech Presidency to revisit the task of simplification, which has at its core the goal of reducing regulatory burden. The Commission will provide an update on the progress made to date in the boldly entitled report ‘A Simplified CAP for Europe – A Success for All’. This report is due to be discussed at either the March or April Agriculture Council, with Council Conclusions scheduled for adoption at the May Council. It is likely that this process will help to identify areas of agricultural legislation that would benefit from a reduction in administrative burden in the future.
Dates and key agenda items of Agriculture and Fisheries Council meetings under the Presidency of the Czech Republic
- 23.2.2009 - 24.2.2009 - Report on the ‘Application of Voluntary Modulation’ potentially due for presentation by the Commission.
- 12.3.2009 – 13.3.2009 - High-level conference to discuss agricultural product and foodstuffs quality policy.
- 23.3.2009 - 24.3.2009 - Commission report, ‘A Simplified CAP for Europe – A Success for All’ due to be discussed; Report on the ‘Application of Voluntary Modulation’ potentially due for presentation by the Commission (if not presented in February); Two items of legislation on the sustainable use of pesticides due for adoption.
- 23.4.2009 - 24.4.2009 - Commission report, ‘A Simplified CAP for Europe – A Success for All’ due to be discussed (if not discussed in March); Discussion on the ‘Communication on the review of the Less Favoured Areas Schemes (delimitation of designated areas)’.
- 25.5.2009 - 26.5.2009 - Commission due to present the main elements of its ‘Communication on Agricultural Product Quality Policy’; Council Conclusions scheduled for adoption on Commission report, ‘A Simplified CAP for Europe – A Success for All’.
- 31.5.2009 – 2.6.2009 - Informal meeting of EU farm ministers – The future of the CAP and Rural Development to be discussed.
- 22.6.2009 - 23.6.2009 - Publication of Council Conclusions on the ‘Future of the CAP and Rural Development’; Policy debate on the development of rural areas and delimitation of Less Favoured Areas (LFAs) with the aim of reaching Council Conclusions; Presidency aims to draw Council Conclusions on the Commission’s ‘Communication on Agricultural Product Quality Policy’.
(a) All dates are taken from the provisional agendas for Council meetings as prepared by Coreper, accessible here
27 Jan 2009
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