I attended the first meeting of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council under the Lithuanian presidency which took place on 15 July 2013.
At the commencement of the meeting, Lithuania announced its priorities for the upcoming six months. In agriculture, these include finalisation of the legal texts of the CAP reform package, completion of negotiations on transitional arrangements and examination of new proposals from the Commission on fruit and vegetables and on promotion measures for agricultural products. As to fisheries, the Presidency will prioritise achieving inter-institutional agreement on the European Maritime and Fisheries fund and on agreeing the annual TACs and quotas for fisheries for 2014. As regards the sanitary and phyto-sanitary areas, the Presidency will seek substantial progress on discussions on the 5-part package with particular emphasis on concluding the negotiations on the expenditure element of the package.
The meeting continued with a report on the current state of play in the CAP reform negotiations, notably regarding the European Parliament’s position on the MFF aspects of the agreement. The Presidency made it clear that it has no intention of going beyond the mandate given by the Council in June.
Moving to fisheries, the Presidency secured a Council position on the proposed Regulation on the European Maritime and Fisheries fund and held a first discussion on the fishing opportunities for 2014.
A number of items were raised under other business, most notable being a request sponsored by Ireland, UK, France and Spain for strong and decisive action to be taken against Iceland and the Faroe Islands in relation to unsustainable fishing practices in the north east Atlantic. Other items raised included:
- A request by Cyprus for assistance in respect of an outbreak of Newcastle disease;
- A request from Hungary, with support from a number of Member States, for concerted action to be taken to avoid food waste;
- Information from the Commission concerning follow-up to the mislabelling of beef issue and actions being taken to address food fraud;
- A request from Netherlands for action to be taken at EU level in respect of the insecticide Fipronil; and
- A request, also from the Netherlands, for a study on labelling of meat from animals slaughtered without stunning.