Agriculture News Digest
No. 195 - 19 March 2009Agriculture on Europa


Commission to recover EUR 126.7 million of CAP expenditure from the Member States

19/03/2009 Also available in:
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A total of EUR 126.7 million of EU farm money unduly spent by Member States is claimed back as a result of a decision adopted today by the European Commission. The money returns to the Community budget because of non-compliance with EU rules or inadequate control procedures on agricultural expenditure. Member States are responsible for paying out and checking expenditure under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), and the Commission is required to ensure that Member States have made correct use of the funds. Under this latest decision funds will be recovered from Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Spain, France, United Kingdom, Greece, Italy and Slovenia.


Simplifying the CAP

CAP simplification: Commission well on the way to meeting target to reduce admin burden in agriculture by 25 percent by 2012

18/03/2009 Also available in:
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Thanks to considerable progress already made in simplifying the Common Agricultural Policy and other measures still to be carried out, the Commission is confident that it will meet its objective of reducing the administrative burden arising from the CAP by 25 percent by 2012. This view is supported by the recently adopted opinion on agriculture of the Stoiber group. A new report highlights a number of measures taken over the past three and a half years which reduce red tape for farmers, companies involved in the food business and administrations, and promise to reduce annual costs by hundreds of millions of euros , which will render European farming more competitive.

Since 2005, the Commission has pushed ahead with its CAP Simplification Action Plan, repealed hundreds of obsolete acts, introduced reforms which streamline the CAP, and improved law-making practices and IT systems. A key change was the recent Health Check agreement, which will render the CAP much less complex. Other measures on the Commission's agenda include the possibility of streamlining cross-compliance rules, a more regular review of legislation and possible changes to EU quality policy, including marketing standards and the system of geographical indications.



EU agricultural product quality policy

Commission publishes stakeholders' opinions on agricultural product quality policy


Today the European Commission publishes the summary of the 560 stakeholder opinions submitted in response to the Green Paper on agricultural product quality policy.

The main conclusions of the consultation are:Support for further simplification of marketing standards while keeping the current legislative approach; clarification and harmonisation of the Geographical Indication schemes and for increased protection at international level; support for improvements to the traditional specialties scheme; improvements in the operation of private and national certification schemes and guidelines should be sufficient; and finally support for compulsory indication of the place-of-farming where justified on a sector-by-sector approach.

Following the results of the consultation on the Green Paper and the conclusions of the Czech Presidency Quality Policy Conference, a Commission Communication is expected to be adopted on 27 May. It will lay down strategic orientations and will be another opportunity to advance the debate before any legislative proposals. Stakeholders will be invited to react to the Communication and legislative proposals could be tabled in 2010.



CAP reform: Commission welcomes success of EU sugar reform as restructuring process concludes

06/03/2009 Also available in:
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The 2006-2009 scheme for the restructuring of the European sugar industry resulted in the renunciation of 5.8 million tonnes of quota, very close to the initial objective of 6 million tonnes. At the end of this 4-year process, a key element of the 2006 sugar reform, EU quota for sugar and isoglucose has been lowered to 14 million tonnes (of which 13.3 million tonnes for sugar). EU sugar production is now concentrated in 18 Member States (as opposed to 23 before the reform) which enjoy favourable agronomic conditions, and nearly 70 percent of production is in 7 Member States with the highest sugar yields. Domestic prices are showing a downward trend consistent with the objective of the reform to achieve a sustainable and competitive EU sugar sector.


Commission adopts compulsory origin labelling for virgin and extra virgin olive oil


The European Commission today adopted a new Regulation making it compulsory to label the origin of virgin and extra virgin olive oil. Rules introduced in 2002 established optional labelling for these oils, but this proved insufficient to prevent consumers being misled about the true characteristics and origin of certain products.

Oils originating from just one country will carry the name of the Member State, or of the third country or of the Community. Blends will be labelled either "blend of Community olive oils", "blend of non-Community olive oils" "blend of Community and non-Community olive oils" or equivalent information. Certain terms such as 'fruity', 'green', 'mature', 'mild' and 'well-balanced' - which have recently been defined by the International Olive Council - may also be used on virgin and extra virgin olive oil labels for oils complying with the definitions.

The new rules will apply from 1 July 2009. These rules complement the rules for specific oils which are protected as part of the system of Geographic Indications and are designed to offer further guarantees to consumers that what they buy in a sealed container corresponds with their preferences and expectations.


Better high-speed internet access needed to revitalise Europe's rural regions, says Commission

03/03/2009 Also available in:
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Connecting the 30% of the EU's rural population that has no high speed internet access should be a priority for achieving 'broadband for all' by 2010, the Commission said today. Improved internet connectivity is a powerful tool to stimulate swift economic recovery. The Commission today outlines how it would use its own support programmes to boost internet networks and services in rural areas, and called on EU Member States to do the same. Good internet access can make farms and companies in rural areas, especially small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), less isolated and more competitive through access to international markets and faster and more efficient ways of doing business. Meanwhile, the European Parliament and the Council are discussing a Commission proposal to make a further € 1 billion available through the European Economic Recovery Plan to spread high speed internet access more widely across all regions of Europe.


Commission seeks technical assistance for the selection of information and promotion programmes related to agricultural products


The Commission has issued a call for expression of interest with the aim of establishing a list of communication and/or marketing experts with detailed knowledge of the agro-food sector and corresponding markets. From this list the Commission may select, as needed, one or several experts for specific tasks related to the selection of draft proposals for information and promotion programmes for agricultural products on the internal market and in third countries.



Simplifying the CAP

240 agricultural acts withdrawn from EU legislation


As part of the Commission's drive to reduce the regulatory burden and red-tape and in the framework of the Communication on simplification and better regulation of the Common Agricultural Policy, the Commission today adopted a Communication removing 240 obsolete agricultural legislative acts adopted before 2007 from the legislation in force. In the early stages of EU law, from the 1950s, the number of legislative acts continually increased, many of which were adopted without an expiry date. These pieces of legislation therefore remain formally in force even though their legal effects have ceased, in many cases for a long time. These 240 pieces of legislation which will now be withdrawn relate mostly to temporary measures, exceptional market support measures, granting of financial contributions and transitional measures linked to the accession of New Member States. The acts relate to the following sectors of the CAP: cereals, fruit and vegetables, bananas, wine, milk, beef and veal, rice, oils and fats, sugar and tobacco. The Commission will continue this exercise of cleaning up EU legislation.


Commissioner Fischer Boel's website

Commissioner Fischer Boel: Speeches and blog entries

Blog entry: "Let's keep it simple!" (19/03/2009)

"The global economic crisis, food security and environmental security" (Second Forum on the Future of Agriculture organised by the European Landowners' Organisation, Brussels, 18/03/2009)

Speaking points on simplification (Press conference, Brussels, 18/03/2009)

Closing remarks (Conference on Quality Policy Prague, 13/03/2009)

"Building on the habit of quality" (Conference on Quality Policy Prague, 12/03/2009)

Blog entry: "Young farmers: A wealth of ideas" (11/03/2009)

Blog entry: "Promoting organic farming - a dynamic sector!" (25/02/2009)

"Organic food and farming: building fresh success on a stronger legal foundation" (BioFach 2009, Nuremberg, 19/02/2009)

Blog entry: "Dairy export refunds – a temporary response to an exceptional situation" (11/02/2009)



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

Prospects for agricultural markets and income 2008-2015

National Frameworks for environmental actions in the fruit and vegetable sector

"EU Agricultural commodity and food prices - Update on recent developments - February 2009 update" [pdf]

"Monitoring Agri-trade Policy" (MAP) 01/09, February 2009: "The new US Farm Bill - Zooming in on ACRE"

"Evaluation of the CAP policy on protected designations of origin (PDO) and protected geographical indications (PGI)"

"Study on the Functioning of Land Markets in the EU Member States under the Influence of Measures Applied under the Common Agricultural Policy"

"Agricultural Insurance Schemes 2"

"Study on the Development and Marketing of Non-Market Forest Products and Services"

"Impacts of Climate Change on European Forests and Options for Adaptation"


EU agricultural product quality policy: PDO, PGI or TSG

Registration as PDO, PGI or TSG

Applications for registration:

'Traditional Grimsby Smoked Fish': PGI (OJ C 49 - 28/02/2009, p. 9)

'Schwäbische Maultaschen'/'Schwäbische Suppenmaultaschen': PGI (OJ C 41 - 19/02/2009, p. 35)

'Hajdúsági torma': PDO (OJ C 39 - 18/02/2009, p. 32)

'Březnický ležák': PGI (OJ C 38 - 17/02/2009, p. 16)

'Faba de Lourenzá': PGI (OJ C 37 - 14/02/2009, p. 28)


'Aceite de La Alcarria': PDO; 'Radicchio di Verona': PGI; 'Zafferano di Sardegna': PDO; 'Huîtres Marennes Oléron': PGI (OJ L 33 - 03/02/2009, p. 8)

Amendment of specifications:

'Riso Nano Vialone Veronese': PGI (OJ L 71 - 17/03/2009, p. 15)

'Chabichou du Poitou': PDO (OJ L 53 - 26/02/2009, p. 8)

'Bleu des Causses': PDO (OJ L 38 - 07/02/2009, p. 28)

'Gorgonzola': PDO (OJ L 34 - 04/02/2009, p. 16)


Calls for tender

Calls for tender

Contract notices are available in all official EU languages.

Important notice: This selection is not exhaustive. For a complete list of current calls for tenders please log on to Tenders electronic daily.

"Inventory of certification schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs marketed in the EU Member States": Contract notice and tender documents [Deadline for submission: 02/06/2009]