March 26, 2014
EU Council discusses organic farming, meat labelling and seafood sustainability
The EU's Agriculture and Fisheries Council's meeting included discussions on harmonising and simplifying 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.
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.
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.
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.
The Council also reached an agreement on the establishment of a total allowable catch (TAC) for sand-eel for 2014. A TAC on blue whiting has been included in the proposal.
Member states 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, and rules with regard to introduction of noise-related operating restrictions at EU airports.