I represented the UK at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Luxembourg on 15 April.
The main item on the agenda was the reform of the common agricultural policy (CAP) post-2020, with a focus on the proposed new green architecture. Ministers highlighted their willingness to commit to higher levels of overall ambition such as spending 30% of pillar 2 funding on climate change actions, and endorsed the new policy design. However, some member states also pressed for large chunks of the Commission’s proposals to be optional, including some of the Commission’s eco-schemes.
This was followed by a ministerial lunch debate which focused on the impact of large carnivores and other species on agriculture. The Commission’s position that 100 % state aid was permissible to compensate for attacks on livestock did not satisfy several member states, who wanted greater latitude for farmers to shoot wolves and other predators.
Council reconvened with an exchange of views on the task force in rural Africa, with the final report proposing a new alliance between the EU and Africa. I intervened on the item, highlighting the importance of developing countries in the global food supply and giving examples from UK projects that increase smallholder inclusion in the value chain and empower women economically.
Commissioner Hogan also provided an update on the market situation, describing a stable and positive picture overall with concerns in sugar, apples and pears, and olive oil.
A number of other items were discussed under “any other business”:
The Netherlands informed Council about EU action against deforestation and forest degradation. I intervened, stressing our support for the proposal and encouraged the Commission to prepare an ambitious communication to step up action against deforestation.
Slovakia presented its joint declaration with the Czech Republic and Poland on the renewable energy directive post-2020.
The presidency informed the Council of the outcome of the research and agriculture conference held in Bucharest on 5 April.