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What are the priorities of the German Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the field of agriculture, food and fisheries?

The challenges facing European agricultural policy at the moment are enormous. Agriculture is to become “greener” and fisheries more sustainable. Farmers are to remain competitive. They need an appropriate budget that will allow them to plan on a reliable basis.

By October, the concept for a Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform package is to be finalised under Germany’s Presidency. When Germany assumed the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture Julia Klöckner stated unequivocally: “The CAP will be reformed. There will be more environmental protection, more climate action and higher animal welfare standards. Under the first pillar of the CAP, which involves direct payments to farmers, there will be no payments that are not tied to conditions.”

In addition, Minister of Food and Agriculture Klöckner wants to see more progress on the Biodiversity Strategy, which is to be part of the European Green Deal, as well as advancing the Farm to Fork Strategy, working for enhanced animal welfare, uniform European animal welfare seals and food labelling that indicates the nutritional value of the product.

The Farm to Fork Strategy is to help achieve a fair, healthy and environmentally sound food system. It provides for shorter supply chains, the use of less fertiliser, the development of organic farming and enhanced animal welfare.

In the field of fisheries, consultations will revolve around the fishing quotas for 2021, as well as assistance for the fishing sector including closures and Brexit-related support.

Since the current EU Forest Strategy only runs until the end of 2020, Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture Julia Klöckner will be working for a further development of this within the context of the European Green Deal and the EU Biodiversity Strategy.

The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic will be another matter to be addressed. Conclusions must be drawn in order to make Europe and the European food and agriculture sector even more resilient. Properly functioning supply chains and the need to ensure the freedom of movement of agricultural workers are important issues here.

On Monday the Agriculture and Fisheries Council met for the first time under Germany’s Presidency. What was on the table?

First on the agenda were the goals of Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The Council was also to discuss the Farm to Fork Strategy. The strategy brings together economic, environmental and social issues, and the potential impacts need to be gauged.

Another item on the agenda was the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the direction of the new green architecture. The green architecture is to be a driver of the more ambitious climate and environmental targets that all member states would like to see.

What meetings are still scheduled during Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union?

On the sidelines of the Council meeting, Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture Julia Klöckner invited the Slovenian and Portuguese agriculture ministers, Dr Aleksandra Pivec and Maria do Céu Albuquerque, to a Trio Presidency meeting. The ministers of the three nations, who will hold the presidency back to back, have agreed on common projects for the coming 18 months.

All in all, another six regular meetings of ministers in the fields of agriculture and fisheries are planned during Germany’s Presidency. From 30 August to 1 September an informal meeting of EU agriculture ministers will be held in Koblenz.