The presidency provided ministers with an update on the progress of the inter-institutional (trilogue) negotiations on the CAP reform package and sought their guidance on a compromise proposal on green architecture. A central element of the presidency's compromise proposal is the increase of the ring-fenced amounts for eco-schemes, compared to the Council's general approach (progressive increase, starting with 22% in 2023 and reaching 25% in 2025) and the preservation of financial flexibilities (e.g. initial learning period for member states).
Many ministers signalled their openness to consider the proposal for increased ring-fenced amounts for eco-schemes; some expressed their concerns calling on the presidency to stick to the Council's general approach and the agreed 20% ring-fencing for eco-schemes.
All ministers expressed their strong preference for keeping flexibility in the green architecture by defending elements like the initial learning period and the possibility of transferring funds between pillars, so as to avoid the loss of unspent funds.
The vast majority of ministers expressed their strong support to the presidency's plan to conclude the negotiations during the Portuguese presidency; several ministers highlighted the need for an agreement that includes all three regulations forming the CAP reform package.
We have reached a shared point of view on the green architecture, an excellent indicator of the Council's commitment to complete this reform, a compromise we have made to European farmers and citizens.
Maria do Céu Antunes, Portugal's Minister of Agriculture
Infographic - COVID-19: EU support to agriculture and fisheries
The Commission provided ministers with an update on the situation of the European agricultural sector and markets highlighting that, overall, the agri-food sector showed resilience and ensured food security during the COVID-19 crisis. Ministers highlighted the negative effects of the recent frosts, particularly for the wine and fruit sectors; several ministers urged the Commission to provide additional support for the impacted sectors.
Ministers held a strategic discussion on the direction that EU trade relations with third countries (as well as other relevant external EU policies) should take in order to preserve the sustainability and environmental credentials of the EU's agri-food sector. Ministers expressed support for an open, sustainable and ambitious trade agenda that ensures a level playing field and support for the more sensitive sectors.
Ministers also commented on the updated Joint Research Center study on the cumulative economic effects of ongoing and upcoming trade negotiations on the EU agricultural sector: more regular updates and more detailed analysis of the impact of the trade agreements to different regions and sectors were the main asks.
Any other business
The Commission informed ministers about the outcome of the evaluation of the EU’s Animal Welfare Strategy for 2012 to 2015 and announced its intention to submit a relevant legislative proposal by the end of 2023. Several ministers highlighted the importance of animal welfare and added the need to revise legislation on animal transport.
The German delegation invited the Commission to consider extending the mandatory labelling of farming methods of hens to foods containing eggs as an ingredient of a processed food (e.g. pasta, mayonnaise). This initiative received the support of several member states which emphasised the added value of such information for consumers.
-26 April 2021