Agriculture News Digest
No. 186 - 23 May 2008Agriculture on Europa

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Rural Development policy 2007-2013

Further set of rural development programmes for the period 2007-2013 agreed

23/05/2008 Also available in:
ES

Today the Rural Development Committee (consisting of representatives of the 27 Member States) gave a positive opinion to the Rural Development programmes of the following three Spanish regions: Balearic Islands, Madrid and Canary Islands for the financial period 2007-2013. These programmes are defined to guarantee infrastructure, create new income opportunities for rural regions, promote growth and fight unemployment. The Commission still has to formally adopt the programmes in the next weeks. The approval of remaining programmes for other countries and regions will follow in the coming months.

More info on the programmes

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Commission launches public consultation on review of the 'Less Favoured Area' scheme

22/05/2008
 

Today the Commission has launched a public consultation on a possible review of the 'Less Favoured Area' scheme as the next step in the on-going Impact Assessment exercise. This consultation seeks to collect the opinions and experiences of stakeholders and interested members of the public on four policy options. The options are set out in a comprehensive consultation paper, which has been published by a Commission Inter service steering group, taking into account the results of a series of hearings and discussions which have already taken place with stakeholders, experts and Member States. The consultation is open until the end of June.

Consultation paper

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Health Check of the Common Agricultural Policy

Food and farming: Health Check will modernise the CAP and free farmers to respond to growing demand

20/05/2008 Also available in:
BG | CS | DA | DE | ET | EL | ES | FR | IT | LV | LT | HU | MT | NL | PL | PT | RO | SK | SL | FI | SV

The European Commission today proposed to further modernise, simplify and streamline the Common Agricultural Policy and remove remaining restrictions on farmers to help them respond to growing demand for food. The so-called CAP Health Check will further break the link between direct payments and production and thus allow farmers to follow market signals to the greatest possible extent. Among a range of measures, the proposals call for the abolition of arable set-aside and a gradual increase in milk quotas before they are abolished in 2015, and a reduction in market intervention. These changes will free farmers from unnecessary restrictions and let them maximise their production potential. The Commission also proposes an increase in modulation, whereby direct payments to farmers are reduced and the money is transferred to the Rural Development Fund. This will allow a better response to the new challenges and opportunities faced by European agriculture, including climate change, the need for better water management, and the protection of biodiversity.

Proposals, Impact assessment, Guide and Summary

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Commission outlines European response to mitigate effects of rising global food prices

20/05/2008 Also available in:
BG | CS | DA | DE | ET | EL | ES | FR | IT | LV | LT | HU | MT | NL | PL | PT | RO | SK | SL | FI | SV

The European Commission today adopted a Communication setting out potential policy responses to mitigate the effects of rising global food prices. The document will be discussed at the European Council on 19-20 June. The Communication analyses structural and cyclical factors and proposes a three-pronged policy response, including short-term measures in the context of the Health Check of the Common Agricultural Policy and in the monitoring of the retail sector; initiatives to enhance agricultural supply and ensure food security including the promotion of sustainable future generations of biofuels; and initiatives to contribute to the global effort to tackle the effects of price rises on poor populations.

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State aid

Commission examines the financing of the two Spanish agro-food companies "El Pozo Alimentacion" and "J. Garcia Carrion La Mancha"

20/05/2008 Also available in:
DE | ES | FR

The European Commission has launched two formal investigations under the EC Treaty state aid rules into the investment aids in favour of the two agro-food companies "El Pozo Alimentación" and "J. García Carrion La Mancha". The Commission expresses its doubts as to the compatibility of the aids for not containing an incentive element required under the applicable legislation.

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State aid

Hessische Staatsweingüter asked to pay back EUR 541,859 plus interest of illegal State aid received in the period before 2002

20/05/2008 Also available in:
DE | FR

The European Commission has today decided that aid amounting to EUR 541,859 granted by the Land Hessen to Hessische Staatsweingüter in the period before 2002 did not comply with State aid rules and has to be recovered with interest. The Commission furthermore found that the aid granted within the framework of the restructuring of Hessische Staatsweingüter (i.e. from 31 December 2002) was in line with State aid rules.

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Reform of the wine sector

CAP reform: Council formally adopts wine reform which will boost competitiveness of European wines

29/04/2008 Also available in:
BG | CS | DE | EL | ES | FR | IT | HU | MT | PL | PT | RO | SK | SL

The Council of Ministers today formally adopted a wide-ranging reform of the Common Market Organisation for wine, on which agriculture ministers reached a political agreement in December. The changes will bring balance to the wine market, phase out wasteful and expensive market intervention measures and allow the budget to be used for more positive, proactive measures which will boost the competitiveness of European wines. The reform provides for a fast restructuring of the wine sector in that it includes a voluntary, three-year grubbing-up scheme to provide an alternative for uncompetitive producers and to remove surplus and uncompetitive wine from the market. Subsidies for crisis distillation and potable alcohol distillation will be phased out and the money, allocated in national envelopes, can be used for measures like wine promotion on third country markets, innovation, restructuring and modernisation of vineyards and cellars. The reform will ensure environmental protection in wine-growing regions, safeguard traditional and well-established quality policies and simplify labelling rules, for the benefit of producers and consumers alike. The very restrictive planting rights system will also be abolished at EU level from 1 January 2016 onwards. The European Commission will now begin the process of adopting the detailed implementing regulations to allow the reform to enter into force on 1 August 2008.

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Commissioner Fischer Boel's website

Commissioner Fischer Boel: Speeches and blog entries

"Peri-urban areas and developments in the CAP" (Peri Urban Platform Europe conference, Brussels, 22/05/2008)

Blog entry: "Health Check: freeing farmers" (20/05/2008)

"The CAP Health Check: straight ahead for responsive and sustainable farming" (Presentation of the Health Check Proposal to the COMAGRI, Strasbourg, 20/05/2008)

"The future of the sugar industry in Europe" (Seminar "Sugar and Seed: future perspectives" organised by DANISCO, Copenhagen, 08/05/2008)

"Annual Policy Strategy for Agriculture" (Agriculture Committee of the European Parliament, Brussels, 06/05/2008)

"Biofuels: more valuable as fuel than as a scapegoat" (Policy dialogue on biofuels organised by the European Policy Centre EPC, Brussels, 06/05/2008)

"Agriculture and the food industry in the New Member States: have we taken the opportunity?" (Opening remarks at the conference "Agriculture and food industry four years after EU enlargement" at the Warsaw School of Economics
Warsaw, 05/05/2008)

Closing remarks (Conference "Agriculture and food industry four years after EU enlargement" at the Warsaw School of Economics, Warsaw, 05/05/2008)

"Balanced rural areas and balance in the CAP" (Conference organised by Women's Food and Farming Union, Wales, 28/04/2008)

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Publications

What's new on the Commission's "Agriculture and Rural Development" website?

MAP (Monitoring Agri-trade Policy) no 01/08: "China: Out of the Dragon's Den?"

Consultation: "Review of the Less Favoured Area scheme"

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Quality products catch the eye: PDO, PGI or TSG

Registration as PDO, PGI or TSG

Applications for registration:

'Huîtres Marennes Oléron': PGI (OJ C 118 - 15/05/2008, p. 35)

'Zafferano di Sardegna': PDO (OJ C 117 - 14/05/2008, p. 39)

'Radicchio di Verona': PGI (OJ C 114 - 09/05/2008, p. 11)

'Aceite de La Alcarria': PDO (OJ C 112 - 07/05/2008, p. 39)

Applications to amend a specification:

'Gorgonzola': PDO (OJ C 111 - 06/05/2008, p. 51)

Registrations:

'Český kmín': PDO (OJ L 131 - 21/05/2008, p. 3)

'Cordero de Navarra' or 'Nafarroako Arkumea': PGI (OJ L 131 - 21/05/2008, p. 4)

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