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House of Commons Hansard
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Written Statements
14 June 2018
Volume 642

Written Statements

Thursday 14 June 2018

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Agriculture and Fisheries Council

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The Agriculture and Fisheries Council will take place on 18 June in Luxembourg.

As the provisional agenda stands, the primary focus for fisheries will be a presentation by the European Commission on the state of play of the common fisheries policy (CFP) and consultation on the fishing opportunities for 2019.

Council will exchange views on a regulation on the European maritime and fisheries fund, followed by an exchange of views concerning a regulation amending Council regulations as regards fisheries control.

The primary focus for agriculture will be an exchange of views on the common agricultural policy (CAP) post 2020. Council will discuss three regulations during this item: a regulation on CAP strategic plans; a regulation on financing, management and monitoring of the CAP; and a regulation on common market organisation of agricultural products.

The Commission will also provide an update on the situation in EU agricultural markets.

There are currently six items scheduled under any other business:

protection of honeybees and other pollinators

memorandum on the CAP in the context of the next MFF

decreasing availability of water for agriculture in Cyprus

disposal of skimmed milk powder stocks

situation in the pig meat market

joint declaration of the ministers of agriculture of 11 member states (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) on the vision of the central eastern European initiative for knowledge-based agriculture, aquaculture and forestry in the bio-economy “BIOEAST”.

[HCWS764]

Transport

Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill: English Votes for English Laws

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I am today placing in the Library of the House the Department’s analysis on the application of Standing Order 83L in respect of the amendments tabled during the progress through the House of Lords the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill.

[HCWS766]

Transport Council

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I attended the only formal Transport Council under the Bulgarian presidency (the presidency) in Luxembourg on Thursday 7 June.

The Council reached a general approach on a proposal to revise the current regulation on safeguarding connectivity and competition in international air transport, which is intended to provide protection against subsidisation and unfair pricing practices in the supply of air services from non-EU countries. During the discussion, I emphasised the importance of connectivity, consumer choice and avoiding market distortions.

Following this, the Council adopted the presidency’s proposal for a general approach on the directive on port reception facilities. I supported the aim to further protect the marine environment against illegal discharges of waste from ships and to ensure the efficiency of maritime operation in ports, and recognised that concerns raised by the UK had been addressed.

Next, the presidency presented a progress report on the revised rail passengers’ rights and obligations regulation, which was noted by the Council.

Following this, the Council considered a number of files in phase one of the mobility package (published in May 2017). First, the presidency concluded that the Council had reached a general approach on the compromise proposal on the revised European electronic road tolling services (“EETS”) directive, on which I voiced my support. Next, when considering the proposed directive on hired goods vehicles, the presidency observed it did not have sufficient support for a general approach and concluded that the Council was unable to adopt the proposal. In the discussion, I noted that the UK supported the general approach, but acknowledged that other member states wanted further discussion.

Over lunch, Ministers discussed the financing of infrastructure projects in the EU and connectivity in the western Balkans.

Following this, the presidency presented progress reports on the remaining elements of phase one of the mobility package, covering proposals designed to improve the clarity and enforcement of the EU road transport market (the “market pillar”), and proposals on the application of social legislation in road transport (the “social pillar”). I outlined the outstanding areas of concern for the UK and committed to working constructively toward a general approach and deal moving forward.

Next, the presidency presented two progress reports on proposals from phase two of the mobility package (published November 2017). The presidency provided updates on the proposal to amend the current combined transport directive, which aims to encourage and facilitate modal shift away from the roads and onto alternative means of transport, and to reduce congestion, and the clean and energy-efficient vehicles directive.

Under any other business, several items were discussed. Notably, Commissioner Bulc presented the third and final mobility package proposals, which focused on safety and technology in transport. Commissioner Bulc also presented an action plan on military mobility; in reply to Luxembourg, she confirmed that a range of actions were being pursued under the EU cycling strategy and, in reply to Finland, set out plans for an upcoming public consultation on summertime arrangements. Furthermore, Sweden noted the 18 and 19 June summit on connected and autonomous vehicles in Gothenburg; and Austria presented transport plans for its incoming presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Regarding bilateral engagement, I met with Commissioner Bulc and my ministerial counterparts from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Netherlands, Malta, Poland and Romania.

[HCWS765]