Tue. Jun 6th, 2023

Source: Background brief – Agriculture and Fisheries Council of 28 and 29 June 2021

Brussels, 23 June 2021

The final Agriculture and Fisheries Council of the Portuguese presidency will take place on Monday 28 and Tuesday 29 June in Luxembourg. The meeting will be chaired by the Portuguese Minister for Agriculture, Maria do Céu Antunes, and the Minister of the Sea, Ricardo Serrão Santos.

On Monday 28 June, following the adoption of A items at 10.00, the morning will be devoted to a policy debate on the post-2020 CAP reform package, chaired by Ms do Céu Antunes.

After lunch, Mr Serrão Santos will take over as chair. Ministers will be asked to approve the Council’s General Approach on the new Regulation on Fisheries Control. The Commission will then provide information on the state of play of the Common Fisheries Policy and fishing opportunities for 2022, as well as on the implementation of the Maritime Spatial Planning Directive and on the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund. A press conference with Mr Serrão Santos and Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, will take place in the afternoon.

A number of topics will be discussed in the evening, including a request for the Commission to submit a study on biological control agents, the need to set a protection goal for honey bees following a review of the 2013 EFSA Bee Guidance Document, a report on food supplements in the EU market, information from the Commission regarding joint action on antimicrobial resistance and healthcare-associated infections (JAMRAI) and information from delegations on the issue of fur farming. Following the end of the final session, a press conference will take place with Ms do Céu Antunes and the European Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski.

The Council session will resume on Tuesday 29 June at 10.00 with an exchange of views on the market situation based on information provided by the Commission. This will be followed by an update from the presidency on the 49th conference of EU paying agency directors, and updates from the presidency on the regional economic accounts for agriculture (REAA) and statistics on agricultural inputs and outputs (SAIO) regulations, as well as on the Fourth African Union and European Union Agriculture Ministerial Conference which took place on 23 June 2021.

The Council meeting is expected to conclude with a final press conference led by Mr Wojciechowski and Ms do Céu Antunes.

Press conferences and public events by videostreaming


Common agricultural policy (CAP) reform package for 2023-2027

The main objective of the two-day Council is to make a significant step towards concluding the CAP reform negotiations, with a view to adopting a reformed CAP for the period 2023-2027.

Ministers will discuss the remaining political elements in the three proposed regulations (CAP strategic plans, horizontal regulation and common market organisation). An inter-institutional meeting on all three regulations (a ‘super trilogue’) will take place the week before the Council session, the results of which will inform the ministers’ discussion.

Some of the main issues where the co-legislators’ positions are not aligned and on which ministers will focus during the Council debate can be grouped as follows:

  • Green architecture: this includes the nature of eco-schemes and the possible ring-fencing of specific amounts for these new instruments.
  • Green Deal alignment: this includes whether and when national CAP strategic plans should be updated to take into account new legislation arising from the farm-to-fork and biodiversity strategies.
  • Targeting of payments: this includes questions regarding the definitions of ‘active farmer’ and ‘new farmer’, the voluntary or obligatory reduction of payments (capping), voluntary or mandatory payments for small farmers, optional or obligatory redistributive payments and other provisions.
  • New delivery model: this includes questions on the number of result indicators to be used for the performance review of the CAP strategic plans, conditionality controls and the simplification of the model.
  • Market management and exceptional measures: this includes questions on public interventions and private storage aids, tariffs on trade with third countries, competition rules and other provisions.
  • Crisis management measures: this includes the use of the crisis reserve fund (introduced in the 2013 CAP reform) and how it should be financed.
  • Social conditionality: this includes how the CAP should contribute to ensuring respect for farm workers’ labour and social rights.

Background information

Biological control agents

Ministers will submit a request to the Commission for a study on the situation in the EU regarding the introduction, evaluation, production, marketing and use of biological control agents. The Commission is also invited to put forward a proposal on any possible measures, if appropriate.

Biological control agents (BCAs) are a sustainable form of plant pest control that can provide an alternative to the use of chemical products. Nevertheless, there are currently significant differences among member states in terms of their approach to the assessment, use and placing on the market of BCAs. A more harmonised EU framework could therefore increase the availability and guarantee the safe use of this form of pest control.

The use of BCAs in the EU was discussed at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council in March. Overall, ministers agreed that BCAs represented a useful alternative to chemical pesticides and would help achieve the goals of the Green Deal and the Farm to Fork initiative.

Council Decision requesting the Commission to submit a study on biological control agents

Setting a protection goal for honey bees

In March 2019, the Commission asked the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to review its 2013 Bee Guidance Document regarding the risk assessment of pesticides use for bees. A crucial element of this review process is to set a Specific Protection Goal (SPG) for bees that is technically feasible for member states to implement.

The current SPG proposed by the Commission is for the maximum permitted level of honeybee colony size reduction as a consequence of exposure to pesticides to be set at 10%. Furthermore, the Commission recommends that this SPG be applied to the whole of the EU. Ministers will be invited to discuss the Commission’s recommendations.

Setting a protection goal for honey bees

Market situation

Although the EU’s food sector is recovering well following the gradual re-opening of food services and the lifting of the restrictions on the movement of people and goods associated with the COVID- 19 crisis, some member states have reported issues in specific sectors and regions that have affected the income of producers. An example of this is the damage caused to the fruit and vegetables and wine sectors following the severe frost in late March and early April and the subsequent extreme heat waves. Moreover, the spread of African Swine Fever and Avian Influenza and high feed prices continued to affect the recovery of the meat sectors, and the impact of Brexit started to make itself felt, particularly on imports. Ministers will discuss the market situation in their respective member states and invite the Commission to provide a response to any concerns.

Agricultural market situation


Regulation on Fisheries Control

The Council is expected to adopt a general approach on the revision of the fisheries control system. The aim of this revision, proposed by the European Commission in May 2018, is to modernise and simplify the rules for monitoring fisheries activities and ensure compliance with the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and other EU policies. It is the first major revision of the EU’s fisheries control system since 2009. The new measures concern tracking, traceability and inspection. Once the Council has adopted its position, trilogue negotiations with the European Parliament will begin.

Council General Approach on the fisheries control regulation

Common Fisheries Policy (CFP): state of play and fishing opportunities for 2022

The Commission will present its annual communication on fishing opportunities to ministers. The communication reports on the main developments in the sector and sets out the approach that the Commission will take in formulating its proposals on fishing opportunities for 2022. It opens a consultation process for member states, advisory councils, stakeholders and the public that will run until 31 August 2021.

Management of the EU’s fish stocks


Maritime Spatial Planning Directive

The Commission will provide ministers with an update on the implementation of the Maritime Spatial Planning Directive. Maritime spatial planning (MSP) is defined in the directive as ‘a process by which the relevant Member State’s authorities analyse and organise human activities in marine areas to achieve ecological, economic and social objectives’. The directive applies to 22 member states with coastal regions.

European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF)

The Commission will provide information to ministers on the topic of the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF) with a particular focus on maximising the added value of public investment in fisheries and aquaculture.

The EMFAF regulation was adopted by the Council on 14 June 2021 and is expected to enter into force by mid-July 2021. It will replace the European Maritime, Fisheries Fund (EMFF) for the period 2021-2027. Its aim is to target funding from the Union budget support the EU common fisheries policy (CFP), the EU maritime policy and the EU agenda for international ocean governance. It will also support coastal and inland communities dependent on fisheries and aquaculture activities, as well as promoting the blue economy in fisheries and aquaculture, while also safeguarding the marine environment.

Regulation establishing the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund – Council position

Food supplements on the EU market

The presidency will present a report on the state of play of and possible ways forward concerning the rules applicable to the placing of food supplements on the EU market. An increasing number of these products (examples of which include vitamins, minerals, and herbal teas) have been made available on the Union market in response to growing consumer demand. The aim of EU legislation in this area is to protect consumers’ health while facilitating the smooth functioning of the internal market. However, Union rules are not yet fully harmonised. The presidency will present a number of options aimed at improving the current situation. It will refer in particular to the need to update the definition of food supplements, further harmonise the conditions of access to the market, and increase awareness among consumers and professionals of the risks of inappropriate or excessive intake of these products.

Joint action on antimicrobial resistance and healthcare-associated infections (JAMRAI)

The excessive or inappropriate use of antibiotics is putting their effectiveness at risk. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) threatens global health security, with resistant infections accounting for over

33 000 deaths per year in the European Union alone. The European Joint Action on Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare-Associated Infections (EU-JAMRAI) was one of the key actions set out in the 2017 EU Action Plan on AMR. Between 2017 and 2021 it brought together 44 partners from 26 member states, EU agencies and other organisations. Its mission was to foster synergies and propose concrete steps to strengthen the implementation of efficient and evidence-based policies to tackle AMR. The Commission will update ministers on the state of play and next steps for this action.

JAMRAI state of play – information from the Commission JAMRAI website

Fur farming

The Austrian and Dutch delegations will present information to ministers regarding fur farming in the European Union. Fur farming is effectively banned in Austria; recently the Netherlands brought forward the target date for banning all fur farms from January 2024 to March 2021. This decision came about partly as a response to the coronavirus pandemic, as mink proved particularly susceptible to the virus, raising fears that outbreaks in mink farms could in turn infect human populations.

49th conference of EU paying agency directors

The 49th Conference of Directors of EU Paying Agencies was held online on 9 June 2021. It was attended by member state delegations and representatives of the European Commission and the European Court of Auditors (ECA). Topics discussed included the CAP reform, auditing and assurance, the FaST pilot project, conflicts of interest, and risk management.

49th conference of EU paying agency directors

Regional economic accounts for agriculture (REAA) and statistics on agricultural inputs and outputs (SAIO)

Ministers will be provided with an update on progress made during the Portuguese presidency with regard to the proposed regulations on regional economic accounts for agriculture (REAA) and statistics on agricultural inputs and outputs (SAIO).

Proposal for a regulation on regional economic accounts for agriculture – Council mandate Proposal for a regulation on statistics on agricultural input and output

Fourth African Union and European Union Agriculture Ministerial Conference (TBC)

The fourth African Union (AU) – European Union (EU) agricultural ministerial conference took place on 22 June 2021, co-hosted by the African Union Commission and the European Commission. During the conference, AU and EU agriculture ministers exchanged views and shared best practices on the development of more sustainable food systems, specifically with regard to the challenge of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Concluding remarks were provided by the AU and EU presidencies, the AU Commissioner Josefa Sacko, and the EU Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski.

Fourth African Union (AU) – European Union (EU) agriculture ministerial conference

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