11 Jan 2016
THE NETHERLANDS PRESIDENCY PROGRAMME FOR AGRICULTURE AND THE ENVIRONMENTBrussels Daily
Read below the Work programme of the Netherlands Presidency of the EU Council for the period from 1 January to 30 June 2016 with regard to Agriculture and the Environment.
≥ The priorities of the incoming Dutch presidency of the EU Council as outlined to European Parliament committees by Dutch ministers at a series of meetings.
Agriculture and fisheries are vital to the European economy and to global food security. The world faces the
challenge of having to feed at least nine billion people by 2050. Solutions may be sought in climate-smart agricul-
ture and reducing food waste throughout the production and supply chain, both in Europe and beyond.
The Netherlands Presidency will hold an exchange of views on member states’ experience with the most recent
Common Agricultural Policy reform with a view to the future of the CAP after 2020. The Netherlands Presidency
will also urge the Commission to take action in the shorter term to simplify the CAP to alleviate unnecessary regula-
tory burden on farmers. Current market conditions in a number of sectors, including dairy and pig farming, are
cause for concern and will have our constant attention.
The Netherlands Presidency will also address the tackling of antimicrobial resistance. A One Health approach is
needed, with closer cooperation between health and agriculture ministers. The Netherlands Presidency will
organise a ministerial conference on this issue.
The Netherlands Presidency will also address the imba- lance between patent law and plant breeders’ rights,
which is impeding open access to genetic sources. Such access is vital to plant breeding.
With regard to fisheries legislation, the Netherlands Presidency will aim to achieve more in-depth sustainabi-
lity as agreed in the framework of the new Common Fisheries Policy. Priority will be given to concluding
agreements on multiannual plans for sustainable fish stock management and expanding the landing obligation
to prevent food waste. These issues, too, must be seen in both the European and the wider global context: clean
oceans are essential for global food security. The Netherlands Presidency therefore wishes to take steps in
the areas of Blue Growth and food security.
Finally, there will probably be discussion of the evaluations of the European Court of Auditors and the European
Commission of EU forest policy and EU efforts to tackle the trade in illegally harvested timber. Based on this, the
Netherlands Presidency will strive for a more effective, coherent approach that will also strengthen efforts to halt
The Netherlands Presidency wishes to ensure that measures in different policy areas reinforce each other
where possible and that both economic objectives and responsible use of resources and energy are incorporated
in a future-proof model for sustainable growth. The Netherlands Presidency sees the Commission’s proposal
‘Next steps for a sustainable European future’, which will ensure Europe’s economic growth and social and environ-
mental sustainability beyond 2020, as a key initiative in this regard. As chair of the Environment Council, the
Netherlands will also seek to encourage thinking at EU level on the implementation of the 2030 sustainable
The outcome of COP21, the Paris Agreement and its further consequences will be a matter of great interest
during the Netherlands Presidency. The European Council plans to further discuss the outcome of COP21 and the
implementation of the European climate and energy package up to 2030 in March; this will be prepared by the
In July 2015, negotiations started on the Commission proposal to revise the EU emissions trading system (ETS).
In the second quarter of 2016 the Commission is expected to propose new national targets for further CO2 emission
reduction in non-ETS sectors (effort sharing decision). The Netherlands Presidency will strive for concrete
progress in these negotiations, with a view to implemen- ting the European contribution to global climate change
efforts (minimum 40% reduction in 2030 compared to 1990 levels) in EU policy and legislation.
A circular economy is based on responsible use of resources and obtaining raw materials from waste,
through reuse or recycling. It is a way of achieving economic growth that does not deplete our natural capital
or involve major dependence on natural resources, and that does not create mountains of waste. An EU-wide
movement towards a circular economy could create new opportunities for innovation, growth and jobs and boost
Europe’s competitive position. The new Circular Economy Package will be discussed by the Environment Council
during the Netherlands Presidency.
In the context of better regulation the Netherlands Presidency will also strive to improve and simplify EU
environmental legislation, in particular by promoting the British-Dutch-German ‘Make It Work’ initiative. In this
initiative, a coalition of member states and the Commission aims to identify opportunities for improving
the implementation, consistency and coherence of EU environmental legislation so that it will be better able to
deal with future challenges. Work is being done with the Commission to modernise reporting obligations. To this
end, the Commission announced in its 2016 Work Programme that it will publish a communication, setting
out a strategy and ambitions for monitoring and reporting obligations in environmental policy. The Commission also
intends to perform a fitness check of all the reporting obligations in EU environmental law. In elaborating ‘Make
It Work’ the Netherlands will focus attention on alterna- tive ways of steering developments besides legislation,
taking as its example the Dutch Green Deal approach.
The Netherlands Presidency will advance ongoing business, including the amendment of the NEC Directive
on the reduction of national emissions of certain atmosp- heric pollutants, and take up new issues, such as the
Fitness Check of the Birds and Habitats Directives, and preparations for the next session of the Assembly of the
International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which will discuss a global emissions trading scheme for aviation
after the summer of 2016.
The theme of the joint informal meeting of environment and transport ministers on 14 and 15 April 2016 will be
innovative technology and policy for smart and green transport solutions. Besides the joint meeting, the
environment and transport ministers will also meet separately. The environment ministers’ meeting will explore
how innovation could be stimulated in order to achieve CO2 emission savings of 60% in the EU by 2050. Their findings
could contribute to the transition to zero-emission transport, revised CO2 standards for vehicles after 2020 and
post-2020 policy on transport fuels, including biofuels.