The topic of the informal meeting held by the Latvian Presidency was Sustainability, growth and consumers’ needs before and after 2020. The discussion material, prepared beforehand by the Latvian Presidency, on the situation in organic agriculture and its development in the EU, pointing out the most significant problems the sector currently encounters.
On proposal of the Latvian Presidency, Ministers of the Member States assessed, which ones of the existing policy instruments were successful in solving different situations in the field of organic farming and, what instruments would be applicable in the future. Ministers expressed an opinion on opportunities to enhance consumers’ trust in organic products to avoid mistrusting high quality of these products.
Ministers also suggested a way in which the EU Member States could provide themselves with the plant and animal reproductive material for the production of organic products as currently there is a deficit of such reproductive material in the EU. The coexistence conditions for conventional and organic farming are also crucial. The necessary changes to the organic production legislation to ensure an equal competition and exclude fraud risks were also debated by the ministers.
“Today’s debates of ministers demonstrated how diverse solutions to possible future situations in organic agriculture, mentioned at the discussion document, prepared by the Latvian Presidency can actually be. I hope that answers provided by the colleagues will be useful for future work for all of us: the Member States, future Presidencies and the Commission,” after the meeting said Council President and the Latvian Minister for Agriculture, Jānis Dūklavs.
Discussions of the Ministers of EU Member States also touched upon the proposal for Regulation on organic agriculture. The Council has already been working at this technically complicated Regulation under three Presidencies to achieve a sufficiently clear position of the Council and start a trialogue with the European Parliament. Although, the Ministers for Agriculture did not discuss the proposal for Regulation directly still some Ministers mentioned it, pointing out the importance to maintain and enhance consumers’ trust in standards of organic agriculture. Ministers also had an opportunity to informally discuss the compromise solutions proposed by the Latvian Presidency so that the Council of Ministers for Agriculture to be held on 16 June in Luxembourg could adopt the position of the EU Council on the proposal for Regulation.
It was very important for the Presidency to receive as clear indication as possible from the ministers to understand how flexible would they be in clarifying their position when adopting the compromise offered by the Presidency. Just as important for the Presidency was to find out what specifically needs to be improved so that the Member States would give their acceptance.
The Chairman of the Agricultural and Rural Development Committee of the European Parliament, Czesław Adam Siekierski and the Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development of the European Commission, Phil Hogan as well as officials of EU Member States and representatives of EU non-governmental organisations participated in the informal meeting of EU Ministers for Agriculture in Latvia.