Experts from around Europe will gather in Brussels on Tuesday and
Wednesday, 3 and 4 October, for a conference on simplifying the Common
Agricultural Policy. The keynote speakers will be Agriculture and Rural
Development Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel and Enterprise and Industry
Commissioner Günter Verheugen. The results of the conference will feed into
the Commission's ongoing efforts to reduce the bureaucratic burden on
farmers and national administrations. Cutting "red tape" is a major priority
for the European Commission, especially in view of the focus on growth and
jobs in the Lisbon Strategy. As the source of the greatest chunk of EU
rules, agriculture must and will play its part.
The Cereals Management Committee yesterday voted on a European Commission
proposal to change the rules for the eligibility of maize for intervention.
Since EU enlargement, the maize market has become unbalanced and
intervention stocks are piling up (5.1 million tonnes at the moment). Maize
grains tend to degrade more rapidly when stored than other grains. To make
sure that maize offered to intervention is suitable for long-term public
storage, an adjustment of the current quality criteria for maize buying-in
is required. Therefore the Commission proposed to upgrade some of the
quality standards for intervention: the maximum moisture content as well as
the maximum percentage of broken grains and grains overheated during drying
will be reduced and a specific maximum weight will be introduced. The
proposal still has to be formally adopted by the Commission. The revised
criteria will apply from the opening of intervention in November.
Today, the Commission has decided under EC Treaty state aid rules to
reject an investment aid of EUR 7,425,000 that the Dutch authorities
committed to Holland Malt B.V. for the establishment of a production plant
for malt in Eemshaven, province of Groningen. The Netherlands gave this
commitment at the end of 2003 under the suspending condition that the aid
would have to be approved by the Commission. The plant itself was built in
2004. It started its operations in April 2005.
Today the Commission adopted its final monitoring report on the preparedness of Bulgaria and Romania for EU membership. Based on the solid progress achieved, the Commission considers that both countries will be in a position to take on the rights and obligations of EU membership on 1 January 2007. To address the limited number of areas where further work will be necessary, the Commission proposes a package of rigorous accompanying measures.
For the protection of the EU's financial interests a special regulation has been adopted today for agricultural spending. EU rules provide for comprehensive measures to counter risks, in areas such as food safety.
Accompanying measures in the context of Bulgaria's and Romania's accession
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The European Commission today proposed to extend the energy crop premium
introduced by the 2003 Common Agricultural Policy reform to the eight Member
States which currently do not benefit from it. This would involve increasing
the maximum area which can benefit from the aid to 2 million hectares from
1.5 million at present. In a further push to encourage the production of
feedstocks for renewable energy production, the Commission also proposed
allowing the Member States to grant national aid of up to 50 percent of the
costs of establishing multiannual crops on areas on which an application for
the energy crop aid has been made. In the interests of simplifying the
management of the CAP, the Commission has also proposed to allow eight
Member States which joined the EU in 2004 to continue operating the Single
Area Payment Scheme for a further two years until 2010. The countries
affected are the Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania,
Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia.
The European Commission today proposed a strategy to ensure that Europe's soils remain healthy and capable of supporting human activities and ecosystems. Good quality soil is essential to our economic activities as it provides us with food, drinking water, biomass and raw materials – and all our human activities are somehow related to soil. But soil degradation is accelerating across the EU, with negative effects on human health, ecosystems and climate change – and on our economic prosperity and quality of life. To reverse this trend, the Commission's strategy sets a common EU framework for action to preserve, protect and restore soil, but leaves Member States flexibility to implement it in a way which fits local situations best. Member States must take action to tackle threats such as landslides, contamination, soil erosion, the loss of soil organic matter, compaction, salinisation and sealing wherever they occur, or threaten to occur, on their national territories. The Soils Strategy is the last of the seven Thematic Strategies that the Commission is presenting, in accordance with the 6th Environmental Action Programme.
"Opportunities in Euro-Mediterranean agricultural policy"
(Conference by Euromed, Strasbourg, 28 September 2006)
"The European Model of Agriculture"
(Informal Ministerial Meeting, Oulu, Finland, 26 September 2006)
Applications for registration:
"Banon": PDO (OJ C 234 - 29/09/2006, p. 2)
"Bryndza Podhalańska": PDO (OJ C
230 - 23/09/2006, p. 2)