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AGRIFISH: Ministers urged the Commission to swiftly approve strategic plans and agreed on conclusions on aquaculture

Jul 18, 2022

For the first time, under the chairmanship of Czech Agriculture Minister Zdeněk Nekula (KDU-ČSL), EU Agriculture Ministers met today at the regular meeting of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Brussels (Agrifish). In particular, they called for the rapid approval of the strategic plans of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and approved the Conclusions on aquaculture.

Minister Nekula introduced the priorities of the Czech Presidency (CZ PRES) for the Agrifish Council. Among the main ones are food security in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, reduction of pesticide consumption in the EU and prevention of deforestation. The Czech Presidency also considers it important to approve the CAP strategic plans as soon as possible, which is why the Czech Republic has included the topic in the first Council meeting. Member States are calling for their swift approval, together with the introduction of exceptions for crop rotation or the use of fallow land for production. Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski acknowledged that short-term exceptions from the strategic plans are necessary and will be further developed.
"Europe is facing many challenges and it is now extremely important to ensure stability for European citizens, including our farmers. The approval of new farming conditions for European farmers for the next period, i.e. from the next year, is a priority for me. We are in a tight time situation. Farmers already need to plan for the next year and they need to know the exact parameters of what lies ahead. I hope, therefore, that the strategic plans for the common agricultural policy will be approved soon. The timely approval and good functioning of the Common Agricultural Policy is also essential to ensure the availability of healthy and quality food," said Agriculture Minister Zdeněk Nekula.

The ministers also agreed on conclusions on aquaculture or production fisheries. These are principles to ensure the sustainability and competitiveness of EU fisheries and identify the main issues and challenges in this sector. "Aquaculture is one of the fastest growing sectors. Both marine and freshwater aquaculture are important substitutes for the already limited fish resources from open sea fisheries. Within the Union, we want to promote long-term sustainable, competitive and environmentally friendly production fisheries. Some types of aquaculture systems, such as Czech fish farming, already meet the objectives of the Green Deal and related strategies and can thus be considered environmentally friendly," said Nekula.

The Czech Presidency has previously promised to address the current situation on agricultural markets at each ministerial meeting. The aim is to ensure food security and help farmers and consumers with rising prices. There is a need to adopt exceptions from some of the new CAP requirements for 2023 for the shortest possible period of time to allow farmers to boost production and reduce the unfavorable economic impact caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Member States also mentioned the need to take into account weather fluctuations or the current drought in some regions.
CZ PRES also launched a discussion on the European Commision Regulation on the sustainable use of pesticides. The proposal, which the Commission presented to ministers today, aims to reduce the use of pesticides in the EU by 50%. The proposal partly takes into account existing national efforts, as requested by the Czech Republic and other countries. However, its final form will be discussed for a long time to come.
Ministers also addressed deforestation. The Czech Republic hopes that this legislation will be an important milestone in the EU's efforts to prevent global forest degradation. The Commission's proposal aims to ensure that the products the Europeans buy do not contribute to the destruction of forests. The Czech Republic is ready to start trialogues on this issue with the European Commission and the European Parliament as soon as the Parliament adopts its position. This should happen in the autumn of this year.