The 17th December, the Council had the first Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting of the French presidency, chaired by the French Minister for Agriculture and Food, Julien Denormandie. The meeting agenda included a presentation by the presidency of its work programme for agriculture and fisheries, an exchange of views on trade-related agricultural issues and a debate on the market situation for agricultural products. In addition, the Commission presented its communication on sustainable carbon cycles. The key aspects are the followings:
- The priorities highlighted by the French presidency’s include the reciprocity of trading standards (ensuring that agri-food products imported into Europe abide by the EU’s environmental and health standards), and the 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;
- proposal for a regulation on statistics on agricultural input and output;
- revision of EU legislation on geographical indications;
- regulation on deforestation-free products;
- EU’s agricultural product promotion policy.
- Ministers held an exchange of views 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 took the floor to provide information about the potential negative effects of the embargo imposed by Belarus from 1 January 2022 on the import of a number of agri-food products, including apples. Poland requested the European Commission to monitor the situation and to take measures to prevent losses for EU entities in the agricultural sector.
- Based on information provided by the Commission and member states, ministers held an exchange of views on the market situation for agricultural products.
- Concerning the fruit and vegetable sector, market trends are favourable for most products with a more difficult situation on the apple market in some Member States.
- The ban introduced by Belarus can add pressure in this market with apples and pears being the products most exported.
- EU orange production is expected to decline slightly, affected by adverse weather conditions in Italy.
- Concerning international trade in fruit and vegetables, after a record year in 2020, the trade flows have been affected somewhat by Brexit: the situation recovered from difficult early months of 2021 and exports to non-EU countries are finally down by only 4% over the first 8 months year on year.
- However, the trade flow with UK remains a point of attention also given that the UK is expected to introduce by mid-2022, after several postponements, full border checks and certification requirements for EU exporters.
- The European Commission presented its communication on sustainable carbon cycles.
- Ministers welcomed the communication and some 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.
- order checks and certification requirements for EU exporters.
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