It was not possible to reach a political agreement with the European Parliament and the European Commission on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy in a super trilogue and the meeting of the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council. The Portuguese Presidency will continue the negotiations until the end of its Presidency, aiming to reach a final agreement at June’s meeting of the EU Council that will be held in Luxembourg. Minister Jože Podgoršek has attended the meeting on behalf of Slovenia. After the suspension of negotiations, Mr Podgoršek said early this morning that, even though we still have different views from the European Parliament and the Commission on some questions and final solutions, we are closer to a final agreement. “It is vital to go through a democratic process to reach important agreements, such as the agreement on the new Common Agricultural Policy. This means that opinions and specific characteristics of numerous stakeholders and Member States are included and taken into account. We obviously have to find some more political will to reach a real compromise and seek solutions that, in the end, will benefit agriculture and rural areas. I believe that the Portuguese Presidency will do everything in its power to conclude the negotiation process in June’s Council. If the negotiations are not concluded by then, Slovenia will continue these complex negotiations during its Presidency of the Council of the EU.”
At the meeting, the Ministers have also discussed the Action plan on the development of organic farming, the EU priorities for the United Nations Food Systems Summit in autumn and the topics from the field of plant health. As part of his visit to Brussels, the Minister has held a videoconference with Slovenian Members of the European Parliament to present the priorities of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food during the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU. Mr Podgoršek has also attended several bilateral meetings with Ministers where he outlined the priorities during the Presidency and the focal points of good cooperation.
Despite great efforts of the Portuguese Presidency and the flexibility of the Council of the EU, the negotiations with the European Parliament on a political agreement on the reform were not successful. Taking into account the aim of the Portuguese Presidency to reach a political agreement on the legislative package for the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) after 2020 by the end of May, a super trilogue with the European Parliament and the European Commission was held parallel to the meeting of the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council. Slovenia paid close attention to the discussion on the legislative package for the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy after 2020. The activities that were carried out from Wednesday onwards were focused on reaching a compromise to facilitate the preparation of national strategic plans for CAP measures and other content in EU Member States that would enable the timely implementation of CAP measures and the absorption of EU funds.
During the negotiations, Slovenia actively reacted to the changes and propositions in the trilogue process. Minister Jože Podgoršek and the negotiation team devoted special attention to the green architecture, better targeting of direct payments and social conditionality, which are the key questions that remained open until the end of the negotiations. The legislative package for the CAP reform covers topics that are of strategic and vital importance for Slovenian agriculture and rural areas. “Even though we have not yet reached a final agreement, we can be pleased with the progress of the negotiations. We have sought balanced solutions for putting greater emphasis on the environmental protection, climate change and the response to consumer expectations in the framework of CAP. At the same time, CAP contributes to the resilience and greater competitiveness of the agricultural sector and, as a result, to food security. It is very important for Slovenia to ensure enough flexibility to enable the Member States to take into account the specific circumstances and prepare the most suitable CAP measures in the national strategic plan for the period 2023-2027,” said Minister Podgoršek after the negotiations.
If a political agreement is reached during the Portuguese Presidency, Slovenia will ensure, during its presidency of the Council of the EU, that the political agreement is suitably reflected in the wording of the regulations and that the regulations are officially adopted as soon as possible. Slovenia will also pay particular attention to the discussion on the preparation of strategic plans that Member States will coordinate with the European Commission in the process of approval of these plans by the European Commission.
Other topics addressed by the EU Council
At the meeting of the EU Council, the Commission presented the Action plan on the development of organic farming, which arises from the Farm to Fork strategy. The plan provides for numerous measures for promoting the consumption, increasing the production and improving the sustainability, aiming to promote the production and consumption of organic products. The goal is to put at least 25% of the EU’s agricultural land under organic farming by 2030 and to significantly increase the level of organic aquaculture. Slovenia welcomes the Action plan and the aim to encourage the development of organic farming in the EU and increase the availability of organic food. “We agree that organic farming can play a central role in the EU recovery, which is based on green and digital transition, since it can increase the income in rural areas. Moreover, the development of organic farming can strengthen shorter supply chains and offer additional opportunities to small farmers,” pointed out the Minister. Slovenia is finishing the process of adopting a national action plan for organic farming by 2027, which will include the needs, goals and measures for an accelerated development of organic farming in Slovenia. These measures will be incorporated in the strategic plans for both agriculture and fisheries to the fullest extent possible.
The European Commission presented two studies from the field of phytosanitary matters: the Study on the Union’s options to update the existing legislation on the production and marketing of plant reproductive material and the Study on the status of new genomic techniques. The studies were conducted after the European Parliament and the Council of the EU had called for a uniform regulation of the area. Both studies concluded that the rules have to be modernised and upgraded, also in the context of technological progress and the goals of the Farm to Fork strategy.
Council conclusions on fixing the EU priorities for the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit, which will be held this September during the Slovenian Presidency of the EU, were adopted at the meeting. The Council conclusions are important for Slovenia since they will represent an important commitment of the EU to the international community in relation to delivering the 2030 Agenda. “We are pleased that the focus is on greening and agricultural biodiversity, a fair income, food security, animal and plant health and safety, innovation, trade and the importance of food security for all,” stressed Mr Podgoršek.
The Council of the EU also discussed the Study on the EU’s options to update the existing legislation on the production and marketing of plant reproductive material and the Study on the status of new genomic techniques. In the framework of preparing for the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU, the Minister held meetings in Brussels with Slovenian Members of the European Parliament and several Ministers of other EU Member States.