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Minister Židan in Brussels: "Dual quality of foodstuffs within the EU is not acceptable"

Brussels, 6 March 2017 – Today the EU ministers responsible for agriculture and fisheries held a regular meeting of the EU Council under the Malta Presidency. Slovenia’s representative at the meeting was Minister Dejan Židan.

In the introductory part of this meeting the ministers discussed the proposal to establish a multi-annual plan for small pelagic species in the Adriatic Sea. On the margins of the meeting, Minister Židan met with the EU Commissioner responsible for Fisheries, Karmenu Vella. 


The EU Council also discussed the future of the Common Agricultural Policy after 2020, focusing on the dual quality of food, where studies carried out by Hungary and Slovakia established that the quality of certain products produced for new Member States is lower than the quality of products the companies produce for the Western markets.


The Council also discussed the non-paper "Better functioning of the Food Supply Chain: addressing unfair trade practices (UTPs) and improving the position of farmers in the food supply chain." Regarding this issue, Minister Židan held a special meeting with the Czech and Slovak Minsters and the President of the European Parliament's Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development.







Proposal for a regulation establishing a multiannual plan to manage fisheries of small pelagic stocks in the Adriatic Sea.


At the EU Council meeting the European Commission presented a Proposal for a European Parliament and Council Regulation on  establishing a multi-annual plan for small pelagic species in the Adriatic Sea. The objective of the Proposal for the Regulation is the creation of a multi-annual plan for the management of small pelagic fish stocks (in particular, sardines and anchovies) and their fishing in the Adriatic Sea and via this addressing the worrying condition of these stocks. One of the main purposes is to ensure the sustainable harvesting of these stocks in accordance with the principle of the maximum sustainable yield and the principle of ecosystem approach to the fisheries management. The proposal also addresses implementation of the obligation to unload catches of these stocks. 

This is an important dossier directly affecting the Slovenian fisheries, namely one of the three segments of the Slovenian fishing fleet that, in 2016, targeted fishing of small pelagic species, i.e. vessels with a purse seine. This is a traditional form of fishing small pelagic species along the Slovenian coast, which has no harmful effects on the maritime environment. In the discussion Minister Židan said that, as regards the proposal of the Regulation, Slovenia’s essential objective is to preserve the fleet segment on the Slovenian coast for future generations. Slovenia will only find the proposal of the Regulation acceptable if it takes into account the special needs and characteristics of Slovenian fisheries, including the need that exceptions be granted for Slovenian fisheries exceptions and the need to be protected against the consequences of measures that might mean the end of Slovenia's fisheries."  In this regard, he draw attention to the fact that even if the Slovenian fishermen immediately stopped fishing sardines and anchovies this would not contribute to achieving a sustainable yield from these stocks, since Slovenian catches constitute less than 0.1% of the catches from these stocks in the Northern Adriatic. "Irrespective of these facts, Slovenia is well aware of the need to ensure sustainable management of sardine and anchovy stocks in the Northern Adriatic and preserve these stocks for future generations," said the Minister.


Dual quality of foodstuffs in the EU 


A discussion on the dual quality of foodstuffs in the EU was held at the meeting.  The Hungarian and Slovak delegations raised the problem of the dual quality of the food products under the same trademark.  The results of a number of tests have confirmed the practice of placing on the market products under the same trademark but differing in their content and quality in individual Member States. This is a practice of some multinational companies, mostly with drinks, juices, coffee, sweets, chocolate, baby food, and even non-food products, too. 

Minister Dejan Židan supported the two countries in the discussion. "If we don't act together at the EU level, we will react at the level of individual EU Member States." According to the Minister, Slovenia supported today's agreement. On 16 March, European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Vera Jourova will meet with a network of associations for consumer protection, to discuss, among other things, dual quality. Mapping of the mentioned issue will be carried out in individual EU regions. By June this year the Commission will prepare measures that, however, will not be legislative.  The Commissioner believes that the existing Directive on unfair business practices already provides the opportunity to take action and she is also ready to improve implementation of the existing legislation. She will report on the developments in the meetings of the Council of Ministers for Agriculture (AGRIFISH).


Better functioning of the food supply chain


At the meeting, Slovenia and Czech Republic presented a non-paper "Better functioning of the Food Supply Chain: addressing unfair trade practices (UTPs) and improving the position of farmers in the food supply chain." With a joint initiative, Slovenia and Czech Republic encouraged other EU Member States to actively engage in discussion on the common EU legislative framework, which would define unfair practices and fight against them.  According to Minister Dejan Židan, the document pointed out the areas that should be addressed at the EU level, to create a better functioning of the food supply chain. "Among other things, it would be necessary to establish a single definition of unfair trade practices and a corresponding list of unfair commercial practices." According to the Minister, it would be necessary, at the EU level, to establish measures for improving farmers' position in the food supply chain, in connection with a deviation from the rules on competition. It would also be necessary to strengthen the role of national institutions and strengthen fair contractual relations.  The only option to achieve this Slovenia perceives in a form of a common EU legislative framework.  According to Minister Židan, an adoption of a joint EU framework is necessary, in particular, to ensure functioning of the common market, common principles and approaches.


Common Agricultural Policy after 2020


At today’s meeting of the EU ministers responsible for agriculture, the Maltese Presidency prepared a questionnaire for a structured debate with the aim to obtain guidance from EU Member States on how the Presidency should further address the priorities of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). They also wanted to hear opinions regarding transfers between the first and the second pillars of the CAP, in particular, in terms of achieving the priorities.

Slovenia welcomed the debate on the future of farming in the EU and its Member States. According to Minister Dejan Židan, agriculture in the EU is facing major challenges and changes in the economic and social environment. "Agriculture is expected to provide enough food for Europe and the growing global population, healthy and high-quality food produced in a sustainable manner and with minimum negative effects on the environment, adapt to climate change and, at the same time, contribute to the reduction of emissions, all while being market oriented and competitive, and, last but not least, to create jobs so to contribute to economic and territorial development." According to the Minister, agriculture also plays an important role in relation to the new and changed consumer expectations.  Therefore, in his opinion, the Common Agricultural Policy, as one of the fundamental policies, has sought throughout its history to address the challenges of its time. "We should be aware that the Common Agricultural Policy will not be able to achieve the set goals without appropriate focusing on farms that produce food and that, at the same time, also provide all the other socially desirable public goods." The Minister added that if the EU wished to achieve that agriculture would provide everything we expect from it in the future, it was also necessary to maintain a strong Common Agricultural Policy. "This should focus on basic agricultural production, provide a common framework of measures and, at the same time, be flexible enough to address highly diverse natural conditions, agricultural structures and traditions in Europe."


The EU Platform on animal welfare


Today, the Ministers also took note of the European Commission report on the  state of play regarding the creation of the Animal Welfare Platform.  The aim of the platform is to improve communication and cooperation between competent authorities and stakeholders.  On 24 January this year the EU Platform on Animal Welfare was officially established and a call for the members of the Platform has been currently launched. This is a group of experts within the Commission, who expects a positive approach and constructive work.  The first meeting of the Platform will be held on 6 June this year.


Nodular dermatitis and preventive measures in Croatia


Today, Ministers took note of the information provided by Croatia on difficulties regarding vaccination against Nodular dermatitis. In the last year, the vaccination of the entire herd of cattle has caused considerable damage to the producers owing to complications following vaccination and reduced milk yield. They call on the Commission to support the purchase of the vaccine, the reimbursement of damages following the vaccination’s side effects and amend the Regulation on measures against Nodular dermatitis in a way that would not unnecessarily restrict the movement of live animals and trade in them.  Minister Dejan Židan supported the initiative of the Croatian delegation, since this disease indirectly endangers Slovenia, too.