EU - The European Union is to harmonise and simplify rules on organic farming, divergent views of country-of-origin labelling of meat and the sustainable management of sand-eel, blue whiting and mackerel fisheries following a meeting of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council this week.
Promotion for agricultural products
Ministers held a new policy debate on the proposal for promotion measures for agricultural products on the internal market and in third countries. A majority of member states agreed on the compromise proposal put forward by the Presidency.
Minister Tsaftar concluded that "We now have a mandate to negotiate with the European Parliament. We hope soon to be able to adopt a proposal in first reading before the end of the term of office of the current Parliament."
Ministers were briefed by the Commission about its proposal for a review of the legal framework of organic production and farming in Europe. The proposal acknowledges that the current EU policy on organic production contains drawbacks such as complex legislation and unclear provisions or deficiencies in the control system.
Origin labelling of meat
The Council discussed a report from the Commission on the possibility of introducing a mandatory indication of the origin of meat used as an ingredient.
The report offers different scenarios but the President of the Council noted that the "positions of member states on this issue are still diverging at this stage."
With regard to fisheries issues, the Council reached agreement on the establishment of a total allowable catch (TAC) for sandeel for 2014.
A TAC on blue whiting has been included in the proposal.
Coastal States consultations on mackerel
Member states also broadly welcomed the five-year arrangement for mackerel in the North-East Atlantic reached between the EU, Norway and the Faeroe Islands. They regretted, however, that Iceland is not part of the agreement.
During this session, the Council also adopted trade measures against three third-countries in the context of illegal fishing activities, strengthened rules on the exchange of information on savings incomes, the roadworthiness package, rules with regard to introduction of noise-related operating restrictions at EU airports.
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