The Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting of July 2014 will take place in Brussels on 14th July 2014. The Commission will be represented by Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, and the Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Cioloş. A press conference will be held at the end of the discussions. The public debates and the press conferences can be followed by video streaming: http://video.consilium.europa.eu.
Fishing Opportunities 2015
The Commission will present its communication on the preparation of setting next years' fish quotas, adopted on 26 June (IP/14/724). The Commission will also report on the state of fish stocks in EU waters. While in the North and West of Europe, overfishing has fallen from 86% of the stocks in 2009 to 41% in 2014, there are still serious problems of overfishing in the Mediterranean Sea with 96% or more of the Mediterranean bottom-living fish being overfished.
The annual report marks the beginning of a wide consultation exercise and Commissioner Damanaki looks forward to hearing the input and views from ministers, which will then be taken into account in the preparation of the Commission's forthcoming proposals for fishing opportunities for 2015.
In line with the reformed Common Fisheries Policy, the Commission's proposals will be based on the objective of achieving Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) fishing by 2015, multiannual plans, as well as any impact from the landing obligation.
The proposals will be discussed during Councils in the autumn - political agreement is expected for the Baltic Sea (October), deep-sea (November), Black Sea and Atlantic/North Sea (December).
The Italian Presidency will present its work programme to Member States.
Ministers will have a first detailed discussion of the Commission proposals for changes to EU organic rules in public session. First presented to Ministers in the March Council (see IP/14/312), the proposals seek to address shortcomings of the current system. The EU organic market has indeed quadrupled in size over the last 10 years and rules need to be adjusted so that the sector can further develop and respond to future challenges. Focusing both on consumer and producer concerns, the Commission's proposals aim at strengthening and harmonizing rules, in particular by removing exceptions in terms of production and controls, so that consumer confidence in the system can be maintained. The initiative takes into account the results of a public consultation carried out in 2013, which met a high interest from the public (45 000 respondents) and highlighted concerns in terms of environment and quality and showed a clear demand for strengthened and more uniform organic rules throughout the EU.
Ministers will continue discussions on the future of the dairy sector, building on previous sessions of the Council on the topic (see MEMO/14/419). Some Member States have called an adjustment to the butterfat coefficient, while others are looking for a clearer indication of possible options if there is a market crisis. While the Commission report on thedevelopment of the dairy market and the operation of the 2012Milk Package (seeIP/14/674) presented at the June Council described the rather positive outlook for the dairy market, it also reflected doubts that have been voiced on the capacity of the EU regulatory framework to deal with extreme market volatility or with a crisis situation after the end of the quota regime in 2015 (agreed back in 2008).
Any other business
State of play of Fisheries Protocols: Morocco and Mauritania
Following a request by the Lithuanian delegation, the Commission will give a state of play on the protocols to the EU-Morocco and EU-Mauritania Fisheries Partnership Agreements.
The Presidency has raised the issue of the intention by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to introduce new internet domain names, notably ".wine" and ".vin", despite objections by European countries. It criticises the concept of auctioning off top-level domain names already protected as Geographical Indications. The presidency warns of possible consequences for EU producers, notably for GIs, also in the context of e-commerce counterfeiting.
At the request of the Swedish delegation, there will be a point on food control and fraud issues.
At the request of the Dutch delegation, there will be a point on neonicotinoids, a specific category of insecticides.