Quiet Last Agriculture Meeting under Spanish Presidency

Agriculture Ministers had a quiet final gathering under the Spanish Presidency in June’s Agriculture Council held in Luxembourg, where discussions focused on the reopening of negotiations between the EU and the Mercosur bloc, the authorisation of 6 genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and CAP simplification. Elsewhere an update on the dairy situation was given by Agriculture Commissioner, Dacian Ciolos, and agreement between Member States was reached on the adoption of Council Conclusions on the international competitiveness of the European agri-food model.

Argentine Protectionism Angers Member States

New trade barriers imposed on food imports by Mercosur member Argentina threatened prospects of a trade deal between the bloc and the EU last week. The restrictions, which have been in place since May, do not allow permits for imports to be issued when equivalent products are domestically-produced, a move that has been dubbed illegal by Mr Ciolos in accordance with World Trade Organisation (WTO) laws. The issue was raised in the Council by Greece whose multi million Euro peach export industry has been particularly negatively affected. Greek calls for action from the Commission were further backed up by 12 other Member States who have also felt the effects of the trade barrier.

GMO Authorisation Failed Once Again

Member States once again failed to agree on the authorisation of five GMOs and the re-issuing of approval for a further one. All six maize varieties (1507x59122, 59122x1507xNK603, MON88017xMON810, MON89034xNK603, Bt 11 x GA 21 and Bt 11 (for re-approval) hold a positive health and environmental assessment certification from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). However, despite this, votes from Member States remained spilt reflecting earlier GMO deadlocks. The failed approval of these latest maize varieties comes in the wake of Commission proposals on devolving GMO cultivation rights which are likely to be further discussed during the Belgium Presidency.

Simplification to ‘be at the Heart’ of CAP Reform

The importance of the simplification of CAP legislation was highlighted during the Council in a common note signed by 18 Member States. The note, which unites an unusual array of Member States, including more progressive countries such as the UK and those that take a traditional view on the CAP, such as France, calls for simplification to be a key issue in the upcoming reforms.

Bad news for the green agenda as environmental rules set out under cross-compliance are being targeted...

This display of support for an initiative that has been on the agenda since the 2009 Czech Preseidency, however, could signal bad news for the green agenda as environmental rules set out under cross-compliance are being targeted as they are generally considered to place the biggest burden on farmers. A deregulation of cross-compliance under the banner of simplification could have serious impacts on biodiversity and the delivery of other public goods, as a lack of implementation and enforcement are cited as key issues under the current model according to a 2009 BirdLife report. In response to the issue, Mr Ciolos noted the progress that has already been made in the form of 19 concrete actions and assured Ministers that further recommendations would be put forward in a ‘simplification package’ from the Commission due for submission to the Council in October.

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PUBLICATION DATE

06 Jul 2010

AUTHOR

IEEP

FURTHER INFORMATION

The Institute for European Environmental Policy coordinates CAP2020. It is an independent not for profit institute which undertakes research in a number of policy areas including agriculture and rural development.