Food and the Czech presidency

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: European union, Eu

The Czech presidency of the EU Council has published its work programme for the next six months, pledging progress on the food labelling regulation proposal, debate on food quality issues, simplification of the CAP and discussions on the policy’s future.

The Czech Republic holds the revolving presidency from January 1 to June 30 2009, picking up the baton from France.

Amongst the priorities for agriculture and fisheries listed in its work programme, the presidency is aiming to progress negotiations on the proposal for a regulation on the provision of food information to consumers.

The proposal was published in January 2008. In November, MEP Renate Sommer, the Parliament’s rapporteur, issued her report on it, in which she set out a total of 143 amendments.

While the majority of these were clarifications and wording changes, important amendments include the removal of the possibility for national labelling schemes to co-exist alongside an agreed EU-wide scheme.

The extended deadline for comments on the report was yesterday.

The Czech presidency said: “Through dialogue between the Members States and the European Parliament, it will seek to achieve a common goal, which is to empower consumers to make informed choices and safe use of food.”

CIAA

The pledge for progress is in line with one of the main points that the CIAA is hoping the Czech presidency will progress.

Although a full document on the association’s priorities will made available in due course, other broad areas in which it would like to see action are the high level group on the Competitiveness of the agro-food industry, novel foods, and sustainable consumption and production and sustainable industrial policy.

Food quality

The Czech presidency has said it will “actively promote” ​the debate on the revision of the EU agricultural products and foodstuffs quality policy, with a view to bringing greater competitiveness for EU production.

A high level conference is expected to take place, as well as debate within the council, on aspects such as products registered under the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) or the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO).

“The key issues to be highlighted include an effective and extensive promotion, reduction of the administrative burden and shortening of the registration procedures,” ​the presidency said in its work programme.

CAP

The Common Agricultural Policy is also a core part of the presidency’s plans, as it will build on discussions that have been taking place on the CAP’s future after 2013.

This will include debate in instruments that will lead to more effective use of financial resources, helping farmers to be more competitive, and laying the foundations for a more competitive position for agriculture and food processing on the global market.

These discussions come in the context of discussions on the future of direct payments and the first pillar post 2013.

“The debates should pave the way for equal conditions for all EU member states, not only as regards the amount of direct payments, but also in connection to the system of allocation, which will respect the agricultural diversity of Member States,” says the programme.

In addition, the presidency will look towards simplification of the CAP to reduce the administrative burden on the EU and improving the regulatory environment for agriculture.

The Commission is expected to give a report on meeting targets for simplification and better regulation. Not only will this be the subject of broad discussion, but the presidency will strive to adopt legislation on the health check of the CAP, including wine in the common market organisation.

Related topics: Labelling, Policy

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