Press release — Prague, January 23 2009, PR CZ PRES - Minister Gandalovic covers the agenda of three parliamentary committees: Agriculture, Fisheries, and Environment and Consumer Protection.
Communiqué de presse
Prague, 23 January 2009
Gandalovic Successfully Rounds Off Four-Day Presidency Marathon
Minister Gandalovic covers the agenda of three parliamentary committees: Agriculture, Fisheries, and Environment and Consumer Protection.
In four days, Minister Gandalovic chaired the first meeting of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council, presented the Presidency programme in three EP Committees and met their chairmen as well as Commissioners Mariann Fischer Boel and Androulla Vassiliou.
Regarding the current situation, Minister Gandalovic informed the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development about his close cooperation with Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel in looking for ways to resolve the difficult situation on the milk market. The debate on the Lisbon Treaty ratification could not be avoided. The Treaty is of key importance to the Committee, since it enhances the powers of the European Parliament by requiring codecision of the Parliament and the Council in the area of agriculture. Minister Gandalovic justified the approach of the Presidency to negotiations concerning the future of the Common Agricultural Policy and stressed the need for a down-to-earth political debate of the Member States and the European Parliament on the future form of direct payments. “Even in the context of the Health Check conclusions the Czech Presidency feels the obligation towards new Member States to discuss the issue of direct payments beyond 2013 while stressing the need to remove historic inequalities and set conditions ensuring fair competition for Community farmers”, said the minister.
The Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development appreciated the serious ambition of the Czech Presidency to take forward the streamlining of European agriculture legislation, which is one of the most complicated common policies. The MEPs supported Minister Gandalovic in his intention to moderate such a debate in the Council that will lead to tangible conclusions. These should clearly formulate the next steps in reducing the administrative burden not only for the Commission, but mainly for farmers. This burden is a result of related implementation legislation at EU as well as national level. Minister Gandalovic and a number of MEPs agreed that supporting quality and promoting agricultural products and foodstuffs of high quality is crucial for the future of European agriculture. “Europe’s emphasis on quality can go hand in hand with the removal of trade barriers without fear of losing positions on the internal market”, stressed Gandalovic.
In the EP Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety the discussion centred on a number of proposals for EU legal acts which may affect the traditions of many countries across the cultural spectrum of the current EU. For instance regarding the question of improving the protection of animals at the time of killing, whose basic philosophy the Presidency naturally supports, we should not fail to take into consideration that a number of countries and communities have national customs and use specific methods and procedures. The minister stated that he was open to reasonable arguments, on condition that the basic principles for optimal living conditions for animals were respected. Nevertheless there is no need to be worried about the traditional Czech pig-slaughtering feast in this context. The proposed changes are in the spirit of time-tested practice of Czech butchers who are sufficiently qualified to meet the new challenges in the field of animal welfare.
Minister Gandalovic emphasised that when determining the obligations of food business operators to provide information about foodstuffs, we must take into consideration not only the requirement for clear and legible information about the foodstuffs but also the impact of the current economic crises on food businesses. It is also necessary to make provision for the efforts of the Member States to maintain a varied selection of different high-quality foodstuffs. The efforts are furthered, for instance, by the protected geographical indications, which in the Czech Republic include “Ceské pivo” (Czech beer), “Štramberské uši” (a pastry called Štramberk Ears) and “Pardubický perník” (gingerbread from Pardubice). In this respect it is necessary to pay special attention to creating links between the policies of consumer protection and foodstuffs quality.
MEPs further inquired about the proposal for a regulation of the Council and the EP aimed at preventing illegal logging. Minister Gandalovic confirmed that the Presidency intended to pay great attention to this issue and he promised to cooperate closely with the European Parliament throughout the debates and the process of adopting the regulation. “We have to find a solution that will punish those trading in illegal timber while not discriminating against law-abiding importers and producers. Above all we must ensure that this proposal does not bring an out-of-proportion increase of the administrative and financial burden on small EU producers”, stated the Minister. The main topics contained in this proposal were discussed at the meeting of Ministers for Agriculture and Fisheries on 19 January presided by Minister Gandalovic.
Spokeswoman of the Ministry of Agriculture