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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
"Happy new year" (13/01/2009)
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,