European Agriculture Ministers to meet on GMOs and Russia

Luxembourg takes over the Presidency of the EU this month and will chair its first meeting of the Agriculture Council next week.

At the meeting the Luxembourg Presidency will give a public presentation on its work programme in the agriculture and fisheries sectors.

The Presidency considers that sustainability must be the fundamental principle for the future development of European agriculture.

This principle, it says must be applied with due consideration of the economic and social dimension, as well as related health and environmental factors.

Given that perspective, the agricultural policy priorities of the Presidency will include:

  • Focusing on effective simplification of the reformed Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and ensuring that the Council is fully involved in the process.
  • Beginning negotiations with the European Parliament on organic farming in order to build a regulatory framework adapted to new challenges.
  • Working on market developments, including the Russian agricultural import ban and the expiry of milk quotas and paying particular attention to the effects on farmers;

GMO

Up for discussion at next week’s meeting will be the restriction of use of genetically modified food and feed.

The Commission will present to the ministers:

  • a communication reviewing the decision-making process on genetically modified organisms
    (GMOs);
  • a proposal for a regulation as regards the possibility for the member states to restrict or prohibit the use of genetically modified (GM) food and feed on their territory.

Ministers will then have an exchange of views on the issue.

Market developments

The Council will also be briefed by the Commission on market developments and in particular the impact on the EU market of the import ban on EU agricultural product imposed by Russia in August 2014 and recently extended.

The Russian ban applies to fruit and vegetables, milk and dairy products and bovine, porcine and poultry meat.

In 2014, in response to the ban, the Commission triggered emergency market support measures for fruit, vegetables and dairy products, while also providing funds for Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) promotion programmes to explore new market opportunities. Parts of those measures have been extended in 2015.

Following the decision of EU ministers for foreign affairs to extend the current sanctions against Russia for 6 months (until 31 January 2016), the Russian authorities decided to maintain the ban on EU agricultural products for one more year.

This debate follows discussions that took place in the Council since the Russian ban entered into force. During the Council meeting in March, member states raised concerns about consequences for the sectors most affected by the ban: dairy products, fruit and vegetables and pigmeat.

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