The focus of the two-day Council meeting under the German Presidency is on fixing the 2021 fishing opportunities in the Atlantic Sea, the Baltic Sea and other EU as well as international waters. In addition to that, the Council plans to adopt conclusions on an EU-wide animal welfare label as well as on three matters related to food labelling law: nutrition labelling, nutrient profiles and origin labelling.
2021 catch opportunities
Each December, the Council sets the total catches and quotas for fisheries in EU as well as international waters for the year to come, with the exception of the Baltic Sea stocks.
- The task is more challenging this year due to the ongoing Brexit negotiations, in which the subject of fisheries is the most difficult issue.
- Because, as long as the negotiations with the United Kingdom (UK) are not finalised, the Commission will not be able to present any final proposals for the stocks that are managed jointly with the UK.
- This relates to around 100 stocks. The respective proposals therefore do not contain any catch levels.
- Hence, it is becoming increasingly likely that the fishing quotas will be set on a temporary basis (e.g. for a specified period of next year).
The situation is different regarding the Black Sea and the fishing effort regimes in the Mediterranean Sea (fishing quotas do not apply for the Mediterranean Sea). The Council will fix these fishing opportunities for 2021 as the respective stocks are not linked to Brexit.
Animal welfare label
The objective of Germany’s Council Presidency is to adopt Council conclusions on an EU-wide animal welfare label.
- Federal Minister Klöckner put this topic on the agenda for the German EU Council Presidency – and the level of support amongst the Member States has been increasing over time.
- An EU-wide animal welfare label could play an important role in implementing greater animal welfare at EU level. It would enable consumers throughout Europe to base their purchasing decisions on compliance with animal welfare criteria and open up new markets for producers to sell products that meet higher animal welfare standards.
- The label would also make the farmers’ efforts for greater animal welfare more apparent. Furthermore, it would facilitate the trade flows in the EU if the same requirements were to apply EU-wide.
The Council aims to adopt conclusions on three legal matters related to food labelling. These are uniform EU-wide extended nutritional labelling, origin labelling and nutrient profiles.
- Re 1: The harmonisation of extended nutrition labelling at EU level aims to provide guidance for consumers and companies and thereby promote healthier eating. The Council conclusions set out criteria which are relevant for the development of an extended nutritional labelling system.
- Re 2: The Germany Presidency also promotes extended origin labelling at EU level. As regards honey, the EU Commission will be called upon again to commence working on a legislative proposal to amend the Directive on Honey. The objective is to make it mandatory to indicate the countries of origin for the honey that is used in blended honey.
- Re 3: The discussions on the establishment of nutrient profiles will be resumed. They are of crucial importance to prevent health-related claims being made on the packaging of foods with high salt, sugar or fat levels.
Under 'any other business', Chair of the EU Agriculture Council, Julia Klöckner, will also report on the outcome of the Paying Agency Directors’ Conference held on 8 and 9 October 2020, as well as on the conference on digitalisation in the agricultural sector, which took place on 2 and 3 December 2020. In response to a request by Croatia, the Council will address the topic of prolonging COVID-19 support measures for the fisher-ies and aquaculture sectors.