The Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting will take place in Luxembourg, on Monday 14 April 2014. The Council meeting will be chaired by Mr Athanasios Tsaftaris, Minister for Rural Development and Food.
Ministers will have an exchange of views on a report from the Commission on the functioning of the fruit and vegetable sector since the reform of 2007. Ministers will be also briefed on the milk quota system, on the adverse weather conditions and its impacts on the agricultural sector in Cyprus and Latvia and on a Conference on family farming that took place in Bucharest last week.
Concerning the Report on the fruit and vegetables sector, Ministers will have an exchange of views on the implementation of the provisions concerning producer organisations, operational funds and operational programmes in the sector since the 2007 reform.
The 2007 reform aimed to strengthen the role of fruit and vegetable producer organisations by providing a wider range of tools to enable them to prevent and manage market crises. Incentives were granted to encourage mergers between producer organisations, associations of producer organisations and transnational cooperation.
The report points out that there is a small or no organisation in the fruit and vegetables sector, particularly in some southern member states and some member states that joined the EU after 2004. This rules out benefits of specific aid foreseen for the sector and it also weakens the bargaining power of the producers within the supply chain. Further more the very limited use of crisis prevention and management instruments indicates that they need to be improved.
In the light of the discussions on the report in the Council, the Commission will continue to reflect on how best to adjust the existing legal framework in order to improve conditions in the fruit and vegetables sector.
The debate in the Council will be organised on the base of a questionnaire, prepared by the Presidency. The questionnaire focuses on the solutions and the necessary measures for:
a better encouragement of the degree of organisation in the sector throughout the EU,
the reduction of the imbalance of organisation between Member States,
the improvement of the current tools in order to meet the challenges for the competitiveness of EU producers
the better allocation of financial resources
the possible further improvement of the use of crisis prevention and management instruments
The Greek Presidency aims to approach useful conclusions that can be taken into consideration from the Commission, when submitting its legal proposal.
Regarding the Milk quota system, following the discussion at the last Agriculture Council in March on the "soft landing" measures with a view to the abolition of the quota system, the Austrian delegation asks for clarifications on the payment of the super levy when quotas are exceeded after March 2015, when the EU milk quota will be abolished.
The Cyprus delegation will brief the ministers about the consequences for the agriculture of the drought which affected Cyprus during the two last winters. The drought, combined with the country's ongoing financial and economic difficulties and the low financial envelope for rural development risks putting many farms in a difficult situation. The Cyprus delegation asks the Commission to propose suitable measures, including the utilization of the reserve fund for crises in the agricultural sector.
The ministers will also be briefed by the Latvian delegation, on the consequences on the areas sown with winter crops due to the long and warm autumn followed by a black frost from January to March. Latvia requests the Commission to take emergency measures to solve specific problems.
Finally, the Agriculture Minister of Romania will inform the Council about the results of a Conference on family farming which took place in Bucharest last week.
For more info about this Council, click here.