Agriculture News Digest
No. 153 - 29 September 2006Agriculture on Europa


Simplifying the CAP

Major conference on simplifying the Common Agricultural Policy


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.


Intervention criteria for maize tightened


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.


State aid

Commission rejects Dutch investment aid for Holland Malt B.V.

26/09/2006 Also available in:
DE | FR | NL

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.


Commission confirms Bulgaria's and Romania's EU accession on 1 January 2007, completed by a rigorous package of accompanying measures

26/09/2006 Also available in:
CS | DA | DE | EL | ES | FR | IT | LV | LT | HU | MT | NL | PL | PT | SK | SL | FI | SV

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
Also available in: DE | FR


An EU Strategy for Biofuels

Renewable energy: Commission proposes to extend energy crop aid scheme to all Member States

22/09/2006 Also available in:
CS | DE | ET | EL | FR | LV | LT | HU | PL | SK

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.


Commission proposes strategy to protect Europe's soils

22/09/2006 Also available in:
DE | EL | FR

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.

Questions and answers on the Thematic Strategy on soil protection


Commissioner Fischer Boel's website

Speeches by Commissioner Fischer Boel

"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)


Quality products catch the eye: PDO, PGI or TSG

Registration as PDO, PGI or TSG

Applications for registration:

"Banon": PDO (OJ C 234 - 29/09/2006, p. 2)

"Bryndza Podhalańska": PDO (OJ C 230 - 23/09/2006, p. 2)