Ministers took stock of the EU-UK consultations on fixing the fishing opportunities for 2021, and for deep-sea stocks for 2021 and 2022. Given the possibility that the two parties might not reach an agreement by the end of March (when the provisional and limited fishing opportunities expire), ministers agreed that a contingency plan was needed, in order to extend the provisional and limited quotas beyond 31 March and until a permanent EU-UK agreement is in place. The presidency will conduct informal trilateral meetings through the evening and will present a compromise proposal during the second day of the Agrifish Council (23 March).
Ministers also expressed their satisfaction for the informal conclusion of the EU-Norway and EU-Norway-UK consultations for setting definite fishing opportunities in the North Sea and in areas of Skagerrak and Kattegat for 2021.
Preparedness concerning phytosanitary measures to protect against plant pests
Ministers held an exchange of views on the EU’s preparedness concerning phytosanitary measures to protect against plant pests that threaten agriculture. Ministers underlined the importance of raising awareness around plant health and the need to be able to identify dangerous pests early and eradicate them as effectively as possible.
Several ministers mentioned that digital capabilities (e.g. development of digital databases) and innovation can play a key role in addressing current and future challenges related to plant health and pests. Ministers also highlighted ways to strengthen Europe’s preparedness against pests e.g. by developing contingency plans and implementing strict border-control checks.
Protecting plants means protecting our biodiversity, crops, food production, and ultimately, lives. Together, we can build on existing initiatives and take our preparedness to the next level. – Maria do Céu Antunes, Minister of Agriculture of Portugal
Use of biological control agents against pests
Ministers held a policy debate on the use of biological control agents – BCAs (macro-organisms) against plant pests. There was consensus among ministers that BCAs represent a viable alternative to chemical pesticides and can contribute towards achieving certain goals of the Green Deal and the farm to fork strategy.
There was also broad support for the presidency’s initiative to put forward a proposal for a Council decision asking the Commission to conduct a study on the situation in the Union and the options regarding the import, evaluation, production and marketing of biological control agents. Such study might lead to the development of specific legislation in the area at EU level.
Preparation of CAP strategic plans
Ministers exchanged views on the preparation of the CAP strategic plans. Member states are currently designing their national strategic plans, also based on the Commission’s non-legally binding and country-specific recommendations.
Ministers thanked the Commission for providing the country-specific recommendations. Many ministers explained that these recommendations are a good indication and starting point in designing the strategic plans; still they highlighted that these plans would be primarily based on national priorities, specificities and SWOT analysis.
Delegations expressed divergent views on to what extent to integrate the Green Deal and farm to fork strategies’ objectives in the CAP strategic plans; some ministers asked for an impact assessment from the European Commission on linking these strategies with the CAP.
The Austrian delegation, with the support of 11 member states, expressed their concerns about the way various initiatives under the EU Green Deal address forest-related aspects, potentially predetermining the scope of the upcoming EU forest strategy post-2020. The majority of ministers stressed the need to promote the sustainable management of forests and their multifunctional role in the EU forest strategy. They also called on the Commission to acknowledge the forests’ contribution to biodiversity and climate change mitigation in the upcoming EU post-2020 forest strategy.
23 March 2021
- 09:00 Arrivals
- 10:00 Press conference
- 10:30 Public session
- 14:15 Public session
- 20:15 Press conference
Agenda highlights – 23 March 2021
EU agriculture and fisheries ministers will meet to discuss fishing opportunities for stocks shared with the United Kingdom and the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy.
Ministers aim to reach anagreement on the Council regulation on fishing opportunitiesfor 2021 and, for deep-sea stocks, for 2021 and 2022, for stocks shared with the United Kingdom.
In February 2021, the Commission adopted a proposal for theCouncil regulationconcerning the position to be taken on behalf of the EU in the bilateral consultations with the UK. This position is based on the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy, including socio-economic aspects, basing decisions on the best available scientific advice, ensuring a level playing field, and ensuring respect for international obligations.
Reform of the CAP
The Council will debate the reform package of theCommon Agricultural Policy.
The Council agreed its general approach on the reform package in October 2020. This agreed position put forward some strong commitments from member states forhigher environmental ambitionwith instruments like mandatory eco-schemes and enhanced conditionality, while allowing member statesflexibilityin how to reach environmental goals.
Following the agreement within Council,negotiations with the European Parliamentare ongoing with a view to reaching an overall agreement.
The Spanish delegation will inform ministers on extraordinary measures to alleviate theeffects of the COVID-19 crisis on the wine sector.