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Aleksandra Pivec: "Now is the right time to dicuss specific simplifications"

Luxembourg, 15 October 2018 – At today's meeting of the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council, the competent ministers focused their attention on the consideration of a progress report on the work carried out on the proposal for a regulation on CAP strategic plans. Slovenia was represented by Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Aleksandra Pivec, who said in her speech that the report summarises well the discussions held at the political and professional levels and that the Presidency had chosen key open issues to be discussed at this meeting: "I consider this to be the right time to discuss specific simplifications in the new implementation model, particularly as we have at our disposal a model strategic plan and also views on how we can best fulfil higher ambitions in environmental protection and climate change." At the margins of the meeting, Ms Pivec met with the EU Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, and EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan.

At today's meeting the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council discussed a progress report on the work carried out on the proposal for a regulation on CAP strategic plans. The report comprehensively summarises the key positions of Members States, as declared at the level of working groups, and of the Special Committee on Agriculture. During the discussion on how to provide a sufficient level of flexibility while ensuring equal conditions for all in the proposed new implementation model, the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, Aleksandra Pivec, emphasised that it is important for the strategic planning complying with subsidiarity that direct payment schemes, except basic payments, are voluntary. The same should apply to risk-management measures and sectoral programmes: "I would particularly like to highlight coupled payments, which could address specific problems in certain sectors and in relation to which we advocate that the current highest permitted share of direct payment envelope, which is 15% for Slovenia, be maintained. A more flexible selection of interventions on the basis of national specifics is also a key simplification." In Ms Pivec's opinion this makes the presented strategic plan model a step forward in concrete discussions. However, it is essential to clearly determine the scope of required information for particular content and particularly the criteria for plan approval.

 

With regard to improving the CAP's environmental performance or the question of whether the proposed instruments and their interactions are suitable to address environmental and climate challenges in the future, Ms Pivec said that the CAP must pay even more attention to nature and environmental protection and climate change: "These higher goals will be easier to achieve through measures farmers could apply voluntarily, where countries have more possibilities to adapt measures to specific situations." An additional argument in favour of voluntary participation, in MS Pivec's opinion, is better adoption of measures by producers and greater participation of producers: "This also includes a possibility of taking wider environmental value into account in the calculation of payment amounts, in addition to the loss of income and costs incurred, and thus ensure that measures are attractive to farmers."  According to Ms Pivec, raising the requirements within the conditionality will not guarantee that better results will be achieved with regard to the environment and climate change: "Particularly the total prohibition of ploughing of permanent grasslands on Natura 2000 sites, of which Slovenia has the greatest proportionate share among EU Member States, is completely unrealistic, as in Slovenia it would apply to one-third of all permanent grasslands." Therefore we need flexibility in the implementation of conditionality requirements at the national level, including the possibility of determining exceptions. Ms Pivec also emphasised that the raising of requirements substantially limits the possibilities for developing reasonable, feasible and verifiable voluntary measures.

 

With regard to fisheries, EU ministers discussed the proposal for a Council Regulation fixing for 2019 the fishing opportunities for certain fish stocks and groups of fish stocks applicable in the Baltic Sea. They also exchanged opinions on open issues in the negotiation between the EU and Norway concerning fishing in 2019. The European Commission also informed the ministers of the situation regarding African swine fever in the EU, which is currently present in 10 Member States, the situation in the sugar sector, and candidates for director-general of the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV) and Director-General of the FAO.

 

 

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