14 Jun 2018
PROGRAMME OF THE AUSTRIAN PRESIDENCY OF THE COUNCIL – 14 JUNEBrussels Daily
The programme for the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the EU from 01 July to 31 December 2018 can be found here.
Here is what the Presidency has to say about Agriculture and Fisheries
With respect to agriculture, the priority of the Austrian Presidency is to negotiate the proposals made by the European Commission on the modernisation and simplification of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) after 2020.
Not only is the CAP the EU’s most long-standing and best-integrated policy area, but it is also considered to be of global strategic importance. This sector is all the more important as it supplies us with safe, high-quality and affordable food. To maintain this status, it is crucial to safeguard a multifunctional EU-wide agriculture, as well as to strengthen and promote the development of vital rural areas, in particular in disadvantaged and mountainous regions. The starting point of the discussions on the future of the CAP will be the legislative proposals presented by the Commission based on the Communication on “The Future of Food and Farming”.
Based on the Commission’s proposal on unfair trade practices, a strong emphasis will be placed on improving the position of agricultural producers, who are currently considered the weakest party in the entire food supply chain.
In addition, the Austrian Presidency will devote its attention to improving Europe’s supply with vegetable protein, implementing the Bio-economy Strategy in the agriculture and forestry sectors, and working on the dossiers on veterinary and phytosanitary matters, forestry and fisheries.
Discussions and negotiations on the Common Agricultural Policy after 2020 as well as on the Commission’s proposal on the food supply chain will dominate the work of the Austrian Presidency in this sector. The Presidency’s goal is to find the right balance between tried and tested measures and new, innovative approaches, and to safeguard the CAP as a common strategic policy which grants the Member States more flexibility thanks to a stronger emphasis on subsidiarity.
In the context of the proposal on the food supply chain, Austria will take up the baton from the Bulgarian Presidency and focus on strengthening the position of agricultural producers in the food supply chain. Key issues will be unfair trade practices along the supply chain and the sustainable strengthening of weaker business partners.
Building on the progress achieved by the Estonian and Bulgarian Presidencies, Austria will continue the negotiations with the European Parliament on the Regulation on Spirit Drinks with the aim of finalisation.
At the start of the Austrian Presidency, the members of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) will set out their priorities for forestry for the next two years. In addition, it is planned to sound out possibilties for resuming the negotiations on a legally binding agreement on forests in Europe. Other relevant dossiers include a review of the EU Forest Strategy and of EU activities on deforestation, the EU FLEGT Action Plan (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade), and the United Nations Forest Forum (UNFF).
In the area of plant health, 2018 will see more work on the new Plant Health and Controls Regulation, as more than 20 delegated or implementing acts will have to be finalised in 2019. Preparations for the 2020 United Nations International Year of Plant Health will pick up the pace during the Austrian Presidency.
On consumer protection, veterinary matters, and animal welfare, work on the legislative proposals already presented, such as the veterinary medicinal products and medicated feeds package, will be continued.
To ensure a high level of both consumer protection and animal health, it is important to continue work on the implementing acts and delegated acts for the implementation of the Regulations on animal health and official controls adopted in 2016 and 2017. In this context, better networking among Member States on food safety will be key.
Furthermore, in an effort to strengthen citizens’ trust in EU food policy, Austria will vigorously proceed with the consultations on the Commission’s proposal on transparency and sustainability of the EU risk assessment in the food chain, and focus its efforts on increasing the transparency of authorisation procedures followed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
The Common Fisheries Policy provides that catches for a number of commercial fishing stocks, which are defined in terms of total allowable catches (TACs) allocated to Member States (quotas), be determined on a regular basis. For this reason, the negotiations on 2019 catch limits for the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea and the North Sea / the Atlantic will be predominant in the Presidency’s work in this area. In addition, we will conclude two-year TACs and quotas for deep-sea species and three-year autonomous tariff quotas for certain fishery products.
Multi-annual plans are another key element of the Common Fisheries Policy. The Austrian Presidency will therefore continue to work, among other things, on the proposal on the Western Mediterranean Sea and the proposal on Western Waters.
The Austrian Presidency will attempt to advance discussions on the proposed amendment of the Official Controls Regulation and the proposal for the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund after 2020.
With respect to the external dimension of the Common Fisheries Policy, the Austrian Presidency will see further work on developing the common position of the Council on annual meetings of multilateral organisations and regional fisheries management organisations. Austria will also prepare the negotiations on sustainable fisheries partnership agreements, such as with Cape Verde and Madagascar. Finally, it will be necessary to develop EU positions for the negotiations with the coastal states and on the northern agreements with Norway and the Faroe Islands.