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(Updated) Reform of EU fisheries and EU agriculture: Post-Council observations

I’ve been at the EBD post-Council debriefing in Berlin today (Chatham House rules), trying to get a wider and a more German perspective on the ongoing reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

Common Agricultural Policy

When watching the beginning of yesterday’s Council debate on the greening of the CAP (webcast), I admit I did not get all the references as I had not followed the discussions so far. However, today I learned that at the end of April, Luxembourg has issued a “Working Document” – not public yet still leaked – in order to provoke the European Commission with regard to the greening of the EU’s agricultural policy.

The press has argued back than, that, although presented by Luxembourg, the paper was actually a German document. This view was contradicted today in so far that only changes made to drafts of the paper have been proposed by Germany, not the paper itself.

This paper, which in the annex contains three options as part of a criticised (heavily criticised) “menu” from which member states could pick and choose their greening efforts, is reported to have received support from a large number of member states.

If you listen to the webcast of the debate, you will hear several delegations referring explicitly to the different options contained in this paper, while others just refer to the substance of one or several of them. It was summarised today that probably option B (Measures with regard to direct payments) may get the broadest support, but that parts of options A (Specific ‘agro-environmental operations’) and for some delegations option C (‘Environmental single payment scheme’) were also supported.

Because of this “Luxembourg paper”, last week, EU agriculture Commissioner Ciolos was forced to present a Commission paper in reaction, taking into account the discussion(s) forced by the great acceptance of the paper. On Facebook, Ciolos wrote that he “proposed some flexibilities and simplifications of the initial legislative proposal of the Commission”.

I tried to find a reference to this Commission paper in the recent agendas or the Commission’s public register of documents but could not find anything. I suppose it is contained in Council doc. 7954/12 ADD 5 (not public). Update (16 May, 6 pm): Following a question I posed to the Commissioner on Facebook two hours ago, the paper was uploaded and can now be found here. That’s what I call reactiveness!

Due to this new Commission paper, the actual presidency questionnaire for yesterday’s meeting was not really discussed but rather the options contained in the Luxembourg and the Commission working documents. If you rewatch the Council, you should read some of the documents linked above, then you will get better what was discussed.

Common Fisheries Policy

I did not learn much new things today compared to what I had heard on Monday, but it was interesting to hear that the German position would be to strongly support Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) for 2015 in the basic regulation, not in the multi-annual management plans as a number of member states argued on Monday. Only for mixed fisheries a later date might be envisaged, but since 2020 was rather too late for Commissioner Damanaki, there would still be years in between 2015 and 2020.

I also heard that the Danish Council presidency is due to present a wording proposal for the discard ban very soon. In leaked documents (not available online) I have seen so far that contain amendment proposals for the new basic Common Fisheries Policy regulation, the issue of discards was indeed considered to be discussed after Monday’s the Council, so that sounds realistic to me. If anyone would like to leak this drafting proposal to me once it is out, you find my email on the about page.

The next Fisheries Council will take place on 12 June 2012 and is supposed to give general guidance on the Council’s main positions regarding the CFP reform, so issues like the discard ban and MSY will have to be decided until then.

2 Responses to (Updated) Reform of EU fisheries and EU agriculture: Post-Council observations

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