Following the meeting of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 17 January 2022, the European ministers set several objectives and priorities in the field of agriculture and fisheries.
Agriculture – Priorities of the French presidency
These priorities include, on the one hand, the reciprocity of trading standards – in other words, ensuring (chiefly by means of ‘mirror clauses’) that agri-food products imported into Europe abide by the EU’s environmental and health standards, particularly as regards the sustainable use of phytopharmaceutical products – and, on the other hand, low-carbon agriculture, in particular carbon sequestration in agricultural soils.
The presidency will also aim to take forward work in the following areas: evaluation of the national strategic plans, as part of efforts to ensure the transparency of the CAP reform; the proposal for a regulation on statistics on agricultural input and output; revision of EU legislation on geographical indications; the regulation on deforestation-free products; and the EU’s agricultural product promotion policy.
In fisheries, the presidency will focus on the revision of the fisheries control regulation and will propose a political debate on the common fisheries policy and its implementation.
“Importing products into the European market that do not abide by the EU’s own production standards is inconsistent from every perspective, whether economic, environmental or food-related. Taking action to ensure that standards are reciprocal is a considerable task, and one that is at the top of the French presidency’s priorities”.
Agriculture and trade
Ministers held an exchange of views on trade-related agricultural issues. The discussion touched in particular on the performance of EU agri-food exports, trade relations with the UK, and the latest developments in WTO agriculture negotiations ahead of the 12th WTO ministerial conference. The Polish delegation also took the floor to provide information about the potential negative effects of the embargo imposed by Belarus on the import of a number of agri-food products, including apples.
Based on information provided by the Commission and member states, ministers held an exchange of views on the market situation for agricultural products. Although the EU’s agri-food sector was performing well on the whole, member states highlighted a number of concerns, in particular the impact on agriculture of rising energy, input and feed costs. The Czech delegation also took the floor to provide information about challenges facing the pigmeat sector in Europe; this point followed up on similar points raised at previous Council meetings and was supported by a number of delegations. Other topics discussed included veterinary diseases, such as African swine fever and highly pathogenic avian influenza, and developments at international level.
Communication on sustainable carbon cycles
The Commission presented its communication on sustainable carbon cycles, which paves the way for future action aimed at supporting proactive measures undertaken by farmers to facilitate the removal of carbon from the atmosphere and decrease the atmospheric concentration of CO2. On the whole, ministers welcomed the communication and many took the floor to share their reactions. Points raised during the discussion included the need to safeguard food security (which is the main aim of agriculture policy), avoid any conflict with other EU policies (such as the CAP) and take into account the specificities of each member state. The presidency proposed to adopt Council conclusions on the agricultural aspects of this communication.
Source: European Council