Agriculture News Digest
No. 194 - 30 January 2009Agriculture on Europa


Food Labelling: the Commission acts against Italy


The European Commission decided today to send a reasoned opinion to Italy for failure to notify national implementing measures as required by Directive 2007/68/EC (food ingredients). This Directive establishes a list of food ingredients which must be indicated on the label of foodstuffs as they are likely to cause adverse reactions in susceptible individuals. The sending of a "Reasoned Opinion" is the second step in infringement proceedings under Article 226 of the EC Treaty. Italy is requested to take the necessary measures to transpose Directive 2007/68/EC in order to avoid the matter being referred to the Court of Justice.


State aid

Commission declares State aid to the fruit and vegetable sector in France to be incompatible with the common market

28/01/2009Also available in:

The European Commission today adopted a negative final decision concerning State aid granted by France between 1992 and 2002 to finance 'contingency plans'. This aid relates to public funds paid by the Office National Interprofessionnel des Fruits, des Légumes et de l'Horticulture (ONIFLHOR) to certain French agricultural committees to finance measures to deal with crises in the fruit and vegetable sector. The aid went to the fruit and vegetable producer organisations in the departments concerned. The funds involved are believed to have been in excess of EUR 330 million.


State aid

Commission investigates Portuguese aid for the collection, transportation, treatment and destruction of slaughterhouse waste

28/01/2009Also available in:
DE | FR | PT

The European Commission has today decided to open a formal investigation procedure, under the Treaty rules on State aid, into the aid which Portugal has been granting since 1998 to cover the costs of the collection, transportation, treatment and destruction of mammalian and poultry meat by-products. The aid has been funded by means of parafiscal charges levied inter alia on any overcompensation given to undertakings which provide services and on any benefit granted to slaughtering and cutting centres and to livestock farmers for services rendered to them.


State aid

Commission authorises restructuring aid for French poultry export firm Tilly-Sabco

28/01/2009 Also available in:

Under the state aid rules contained in the EC Treaty, the European Commission has authorised restructuring aid of EUR 3.6 million for the poultry export firm SA Tilly-Sabco. After examining the restructuring plan, the Commission considered that the restructuring measures were an appropriate means of restoring the firm's viability, that the aid was limited to the minimum necessary and that it did not entail excessive distortion of competition. The Commission therefore concluded that the aid was in accordance with the EU provisions on restructuring firms in difficulty.


Commission proposes EUR 5 billion new investment in energy and Internet broadband infrastructure in 2009-2010, in support of the EU recovery plan

28/01/2009 Also available in:
BG | CS | DA | DE | ET | EL | ES | FR | IT | LV | LT | HU | MT | NL | PL | PT | RO | SK | SL | FI | SV

As part of the ongoing implementation of the EU recovery plan endorsed by the European Council in December 2008, the European Commission has today presented proposals to invest in key energy and Internet broadband infrastructure projects. These will deliver a much needed stimulus to the EU economy in the short term, while at the same time targeting strategic goals such as energy security. All Member States will benefit from the package of measures.

For broadband, the Commission proposes to target EUR 1 billion to extend and upgrade high-speed internet in rural communities. This money will be targeted via the existing EU's Rural Development Fund to cover the "white spots" on Europe's broadband map (30% of the population in rural areas who do not have broadband access).

The Commission also proposes to direct EUR 0.5 billion - using the existing rural development mechanisms - to launch the work of tackling the "new challenges" identified in the "Health check" of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). These new challenges are: climate change, renewable energy, water management, biodiversity and dairy restructuring.


EU reintroduces export refunds for dairy products


At today's Management Committee, it was decided to reintroduce export refunds for certain dairy products for the first time since June 2007. The decision was taken in response to the serious situation on the EU dairy market, caused by a recent sharp fall in producer prices. Export refunds can be paid to allow EU exporters to continue to be present on the world market. The EU will, of course, fully respect the limits on subsidised exports set by the World Trade Organisation. The Commission will continue to observe market developments and will adjust the refunds accordingly. The measure will only apply for as long as market conditions so dictate. For skimmed milk powder (SMP), bids were accepted for a total of 5,612 tonnes at a maximum refund of 200 EUR per tonne (out of total bids for 15,172 tonnes). For butter (82 percent fat), bids were accepted for 2,299 tonnes at a maximum refund of 500 EUR per tonne (out of total bids for 9,566 tonnes). For butteroil, bids were accepted for 80 tonnes at a maximum refund of 580 EUR per tonne (out of total bids for 980 tonnes). At the same time, lower rates were fixed for the standing refunds (the refund rates at which exports can be carried between regular tenders). The rates were 170 EUR per tonne for SMP, 450 EUR per tonne for butter, 260 EUR per tonne for whole milk powder, and 220 EUR per tonne for cheeses.


European Group on Ethics (EGE) asks European Commission to embed ethical principles in agriculture policies

21/01/2009 Also available in:
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The European Group on Ethics (EGE) today met with Mariann Fischer Boel, the Commissioner responsible for Agriculture and Rural Development to present the main recommendations of the Group's opinion on the ethical implications of modern developments in agriculture technologies.

Adopted Opinion, full press release and list of EGE members


Results of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council

19/01/2009 Also available in:

Mr Petr Gandalovič made a presentation of the work programme of the Czech Presidency in the field of Agriculture and Fisheries.

The Council having concluded its proceedings on two decisions, concerning the placing on the market of a genetically modified (GM) oilseed rape (T45) and of a GM carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus L. line 123.8.12) respectively, the Commission is now entitled to finalise the decision-making procedure on both issues.

Without discussion, the Council adopted the Common Agricultural Policy "Health check" legislative package. This package makes a number of important adjustments to the CAP in order to make the CAP more market oriented and better able to respond to the new challenges facing agriculture.

Among the measures included in the package are: EUR 3 billion for new challenges facing agriculture, funded through modulation of farm payments; further decoupling of farm payments allowing farmers to better respond to market signals; a soft-landing for the dairy sector, where the milk quota regime will expire in 2015; the possibility of better targeting support for farm sectors in difficulty.


Dairy market: Commission proposes additional measures to help dairy sector

15/01/2009 Also available in:
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Following the recent slump in prices for milk and dairy products, Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel today pledged to introduce new measures to support the market. The Commission will next week reintroduce export refunds for butter, cheese and whole and skimmed milk powder. When intervention buying for butter and SMP begins in March, the Commission undertakes to, if necessary, buy more than the pre-determined quantities through regular tenders. In November, the Commission reintroduced private storage for butter with effect from 1 January 2009 - including for butter produced in December. This represented an introduction of private storage earlier than is usually the case.


European Commission welcomes European Parliament's vote on Plant Protection Products Regulation

13/01/2009 Also available in:
DE | EL | FR

Today the European Parliament adopted in second reading a Regulation to replace the current legislation on plant protection products, based on a Commission proposal from 2006. The new legislation will increase the protection of human health and the environment, will lead to a better protection of agricultural production and will extend and deepen the single market of plant protection products.

The new Regulation will facilitate innovation by establishing clear criteria for approval of substances. Rules are proposed to ensure an open and competitive market. The existing legislation is improved and simplified, in particular in terms of approval procedures.

The new Regulation confirms the importance that the European Commission gives to a high level of protection of human health and the environment, while at the same time harmonises further the availability of plant protection products. Moreover it intends to favour competition and reduce administrative burden for all stakeholders.

Questions and Answers on Plant Protection Products


Green Paper on agricultural product quality policy

Over 500 responses to Green Paper on agricultural product quality


On 15 October 2008, the European Commission launched a consultation on agricultural product quality. At the close of the consultation period on 31 December 2008, more than 500 written responses had been received from a broad range of stakeholders: from farmers, retailers, European interest group representatives, local authorities, consumers, environmental NGOs, and many others. Contributions reflect a wide range of views on, among other matters, the pros and cons of obligatory labelling of the place of farming on foodstuffs, the future of geographical indications, and development of private-sector food quality certification schemes. Contributions have been sent from all 27 EU Member States as well as from some countries outside the EU.

The Commission services have started analysing the contributions received and will upload all contributions to the Quality policy website in the coming weeks. A summary of responses will be prepared and published; this is planned to be available before the Czech Presidency conference on quality policy to be held in Prague on 12-13 March 2009. This will set the scene for a major strategy paper, the Communication on agricultural product quality policy, planned for adoption by the Commission in May 2009.


Measures expected to reduce human salmonellosis caused by eggs


As of January 1 2009 all eggs from flocks of laying hens, not monitored for the presence of Salmonella or found positive to Salmonella Enteritidis or Salmonella Typhimurium, can not be sold as table eggs but must be processed as egg products and pasteurised in order to eliminate all risks for consumers. In particular, the measure is expected to reduce considerably the number of human salmonellosis infections. Restrictions on table eggs from flocks of layers infected with Salmonella were first adopted in 2003 through Regulation (EC) No 2160/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the control of Salmonella and other specified food-borne zoonotic agents. Initially, the restrictions were to enter into force at the end of 2009. However, high Salmonella prevalence was recorded in flocks during an EU survey in 2005-2006, and in 2007 it was decided to accelerate the regulations' enforcement. Commission Regulation (EC) No 1237/2007 set January 1 2009 as the new date to enforce these restrictions. According to the European Food Safety Authority's (EFSA) annual reports on the monitoring of zoonoses, eggs and egg products are responsible for more than half of all outbreaks of human salmonellosis in the EU where the source of infection was demonstrated. More than 95% of these infections are caused by Salmonella Enteritidis or Salmonella Typhimurium. Monitoring for Salmonella is mandatory in flocks of laying hens since the beginning of 2008. Since then, whenever Salmonella was detected, measures had to be taken to eliminate the infection from the farm. However, trade restrictions were not systematically applied. Because eggs constitute one of the major sources of human salmonellosis, it is expected that these measures will reduce considerably the number of cases of infection. The measures also apply to eggs imported from third countries. Only Croatia, Norway and Switzerland have provided equivalent guarantees on the safety of eggs. Therefore, only imports of table eggs from these countries are authorised in the EU.


Commissioner Fischer Boel's website

Commissioner Fischer Boel: Speeches and blog entries

Blog entry: "No time to waste" (30/01/2009)

"Challenges for the plant sector" (International Plant Exhibition, Essen, 29/01/2009)

"Food prices in Europe: what the CAP can and can't do" (Konrad Adenauer  Stiftung, Brussels, 27/01/2009)

Blog entry: "Cloning: Why a Good Plan today is better than a Perfect Plan tomorrow" (20/01/2009)

Opening speech at the Grüne Woche (Berlin, 15/01/2009)

Blog entry: "Happy new year" (13/01/2009)


EU agricultural product quality policy: PDO, PGI or TSG

Registration as PDO, PGI or TSG

Applications for registration:

'Raviole du Dauphiné': PGI (OJ C 3 - 08/01/2009, p. 17)

Rejections of registrations:

'Džiugas': PGI (OJ L 8 - 13/01/2009, p. 24)

'Germantas': PGI (OJ L 8 - 13/01/2009, p. 25)