European Agriculture Ministers are to meet next week in the last European Agricultural Council meeting before the abolition of milk quotas.

At the meeting the the Commission will be invited to outline to the ministers the state of play on the dairy market situation and trends, and on current and future EU measures.

For more than three decades since the introduction of milk quota in 1984, the EU dairy sector has been governed by the milk quota system, which comes to an end this month.

The decision to abolish the quota system was taken by the Council back in 2003, as part of the market orientation approach.

Ever since, there has been a convergence between EU and world dairy commodity prices reflecting the improved competitiveness of the EU dairy sector and allowing for some 11% of EU milk production to be exported without export subsidies.

The abolition of milk quota is happening at a timely moment for the EU dairy sector, allowing it to benefit from the projected 2% annual increase in global demand for dairy products.

According to a statement in advance of the meeting the issues of increasing the resilience of the sector and of better preparing for the end of milk quota have been a matter of deep interest and debate in the Council and its preparatory bodies.

Implementation and simplification of the CAP

Also up for debate at next weeks Council meeting will be the much commented on implementation and the simplification of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

The Commissioner Hogan indicated in January of this year that the simplification of the CAP would be one of its priorities, and asked ministers to provide ideas and proposals on how to address the issue in the coming months.

As implementation and simplification are also key issues for the Council, the presidency has asked the member states to carry out two complementary tasks: to take stock of the implementation of the reformed CAP in the member states and to complete a questionnaire on the main CAP regulation with a view to listing member states’ priorities for simplification.

Building on those consultations and the work of the Council’s preparatory bodies, the Presidency would like to obtain ministers’ views on priority areas for simplification based on the experience of implementation of the reformed CAP.

Therefore the debate on the issue at next weeks Council will be structured around the following two questions:

In the light of your experience with the implementation of the reformed CAP:

  1. Could you identify a few practices arising from the implementation of the new CAP which, in your opinion, it would be worth sharing with other Member States?
  2. Which in your opinion are the few most important issues to be simplified in each of the three policy areas: direct payments, rural development and common market organisation (CMO)?