My noble friend, the Lords spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Gardiner), represented the UK at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 27 and 28 June in Luxembourg.
Commissioner Hogan made a short presentation with an overview of the various agricultural commodity markets and summarised all the support measures already in place to support farmers. The commissioner urged those member states yet to declare their expenditure from the September package to make full use of it. The UK distributed its share of targeted aid in December 2015 to help producers with their immediate cash-flow. The commissioner concluded by confirming that he will bring forward a new package of measures at the July Council which was supported by a number of member states, most notably Germany, France and Poland.
The Chair of the Agricultural Markets Taskforce (AMT), Cees Veerman, presented the Council with an update on the proposals being prepared for autumn 2016. The AMT is focusing on helping producers manage price volatility by identifying new structural measures.
The presidency explained that its compromise text on sustainable management of external fishing fleets, now took account of member state requests to simplify the management systems and ensure consistency with the control regulation.
Commissioner Vella presented his policy orientation for the setting of fishing opportunities in 2017. He noted the good progress made in many seas and stocks, for example cod and plaice in the North Sea, but also the continuing problems in the Mediterranean. The UK argued that exceptions to reaching maximum sustainable yield targets would need to be made in some cases in order to avoid clashes with other objectives of the reformed common fisheries policy. Other MS, including the UK, pointed to the difficulties inherent in implementing the landing obligation, which will see an end to the wasteful practice of discarding of dead fish at sea.
Any other business items
The Commission updated the Council on the various initiatives which were tackling the serious state of the Mediterranean’s fish stocks.
Finland called on the Commission to resolve an issue connected with an oversight in the common provisions’ regulation.
Council conclusions for FLEGT were adopted.
The presidency announced the final report of the expert group on sustainable plant protection.
Commissioner Andriukaitis presented the recent Commission communication on endocrine disruptors.