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Main results - Agriculture and Fisheries Council of 11-12 October 2021

2021.10.14.

  • CAP Strategic Plans
  • EU marketing standards
  • New EU Forest Strategy for 2030

Agriculture

CAP Strategic Plans

Under the reformed Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which will cover the period 2023-2027, member states are asked to prepare strategic plans detailing how they will implement the provisions of the policy. Ministers discussed the state of play of the preparation of their plans, identified any challenges they were facing and reflected on the public consultation processes carried out with relevant stakeholders. They also called on the Commission to adopt a transparent approach to evaluating the plans, for example by providing clear assessment criteria and ensuring that as many guidance documents as possible are made public.

EU marketing standards

Ministers held an exchange of views on the revision of EU marketing standards for agricultural products. They underlined the importance of marketing standards and acknowledged the need to examine ways to improve them further, in particular with a view to contributing to greater sustainability, while also providing clear information to consumers and maintaining the competitiveness of EU products on the international market. Moreover, many of them expressed support for the Slovenian presidency’s proposal to revise the rules on labelling honey blends so as to indicate the countries of origin of the honey used in the blends.

EU marketing standards set out minimum requirements for products that are traded between businesses or marketed to consumers. The EU’s Farm to Fork strategy envisages a revision of marketing standards aimed at increasing the sustainability of the food supply chain. Other considerations include the need to modernise certain standards and bring them in line with consumer expectations.

Updating the rules on honey blend labelling is a key priority of the Slovenian presidency and the support expressed by member states today brings us a step closer to achieving this important aim.

Jože Podgoršek, Slovenian Minister for Agriculture

New EU Forest Strategy for 2030

Ministers discussed the Commission’s Communication on the new EU Forest Strategy for 2030, which was published on 16 July 2021. This strategy, which is anchored in the European Green Deal, aims to adapt Europe’s forests to respond to threats such as climate change, maintain forests’ role as carbon sinks and preserve and restore ecosystems, while also ensuring sustainable management of forest resources.

Ministers welcomed the strategy but stressed the importance of balancing environmental goals with the crucial economic and social roles that Europe’s forests play. Ministers underlined that the strategy needs to take into account national specificities and existing national strategies and measures, in full respect of the principle of subsidiarity, and that adequate funding should be provided. The Council is expected to adopt conclusions on the strategy at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council in November.

 

Illustration: green transition

Infographic - How the EU delivers the green transition: See full infographic

Fit for 55

An exchange of views took place on the potential contribution of the agriculture and forestry sectors to the new Fit for 55 package. Ministers discussed the challenges and opportunities posed by the initiative. Points raised included the possible overlap with the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the need for the different starting points of member states to be taken into account when setting climate objectives. A key message from ministers was that the primary CAP objective of food security should always be guaranteed. A number of delegations also called for an impact assessment of the package to be carried out. Regarding forests, ministers acknowledged their essential role as carbon sinks and in preserving biodiversity, but highlighted that the main challenge will be to balance the more ambitious environmental targets for forestry with the social and economic aspects of forest sustainability.

Fit for 55 is a set of interconnected proposals adopted by the Commission on 14 July with the aim of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 (compared to 1990 levels). Three of the proposals have a clear connection to agriculture and forestry as they involve the revision of three key regulations:

Other topics on the agenda

On the first day of the Council meeting, ministers received information from delegations on a number of topics, including Turkish IUU fishing in Greek territorial waters, the high price of fertiliser, the situation in the pig meat sector, the recent meeting of G20 agriculture ministers, the upcoming revision of the European quality policy, and a proposal to extend the temporary framework for State aid. On the second day the presidency provided an update on the recent United Nations Food Systems Summit, the Spanish delegation presented its proposed candidate to chair the UN Committee on World Food Security, and the Danish delegation called for the revision of the EU’s animal welfare legislation.

Full document available via the link below.