The Agriculture and Fisheries Council took place in Brussels on 19 November. The UK was represented by Lord Gardiner of Kimble, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity, and Lords Minister.
The main focus of the Council for fisheries was a Council regulation for fixing the fishing opportunities for certain deep-sea fish stocks for 2019 and 2020, for which a political agreement was sought. The UK was content with the Commission proposal and intervened to stress the importance of setting fishing opportunities in line with scientific advice. Following a series of trilateral meetings between member states, the Commission and the presidency, a unanimous political agreement was reached.
The primary focus for agriculture was a policy debate on the post-2020 CAP reform package, including two legislative proposals: the first on financing, management and monitoring of the CAP, the second on common market organisation (CMO) of agricultural products. On the first legislative proposal, member states welcomed the shift to a performance-based approach, but voiced concern about the burden monitoring and reporting would place on them. On the second item, most member states were content to maintain the status quo, while some member states suggested that new tools should be applied.
An exchange of views was held on the current challenges in the field of plant protection. Member states agreed with the presidency on the challenges posed by climate change and international trade in preventing the introduction and spread of damaging pests. The UK intervened, pointing out the UK’s long term plans and emphasising support for a precautionary approach on imports.
The commission also informed the Council about the present market situation which has been characterised by general stability. On the continuing issue in the sugar market, the Commission announced that it will be convening a high level group to propose action. A number of member states voiced specific concerns over pig meat.
The Council held another exchange of views on Task Force Rural Africa (TFRA) which included a presentation of the findings from the body’s forthcoming report by the Commission and the chair of the Commission’s Task Force Rural Africa. Some member states suggested areas for partnership with a particular focus on delivering UN sustainable development goals.
One item was discussed under any other business:
The Commission informed member states about the implementation of the European maritime and fisheries fund, pointing out the low uptake of funding by member states.