Strengthening the agri-food sector

The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly demonstrated that the agri-food industry is of systemic relevance, because it safeguards supplies of agricultural products and food for Europe’s population. During its Presidency, Germany is therefore advocating strengthening this vital sector.

Brandenburger Tor bei Nacht mit angestrahltem Logo der Deutschen EU-Ratspräsidentschaft
#EU2020DE - Ernährungs- und Landwirtschaft stärken © BMEL

Negotiations on the future of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) after 2020

The objectives of the CAP include:

  • supplying the population with high-quality food at affordable prices;
  • stabilising the income of farmers;
  • and boosting competitive strength.

Trio Presidency

Once Germany took over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU) for the period from 1 July until 31 December 2020, it started to cooperate closely with the governments of Portugal and Slovenia – the two countries whose EU Council Presidencies are due to succeed Germany’s – as the “Trio Presidency” within the scope of the so-called trio programme (18-month programme of the Council).

The trio programme was developed by the German Presidency, the future Portuguese and Slovenian Presidencies and the High Representative of the Union, the chair of the Foreign Affairs Council. This programme ensures a smooth Presidency handover from one EU Member State to the other by developing an 18-month plan which identifies the topics that are to be addressed under the respective Presidency according to the Strategic Agenda 2019-2024. The Strategic Agenda provides a common framework and guidance for the EU’s actions.

Promoting the sustainable development of rural areas was later added as an additional vital aspect of European agricultural policy.

One of the important goals of the CAP reform is to have an even stronger focus on environmental protection and climate change mitigation. At the same time, it is planned to simplify the CAP for farmers and administrations, to make it more flexible and to tailor it more closely to the needs of the Member States.

To this end, the European Commission has submitted proposals. The German Council Presidency has reached a political agreement among the Member States, a so-called "General Approach of the Council", in October 2020. This "General Approach" is the basis for the trilogues, in which the two co-legislators (Council and the European Parliament) strive to reach an agreement on the legislative proposals. The trilogues started on 10 november 2020 and will probably be finalised within the first six months of 2021.

The Farm to Fork Strategy and the European Commission’s 2030 Biodiversity Strategy

The Farm to Fork Strategy ("From stable to table") and the EU Biodiversity Strategy, which were presented by the European Commission, are closely linked with the CAP. Their objective is to create a reliable, sustainable and resilient food system that also takes into account the interdependencies between the health of the population and environmental limits.

The German Council Presidency has reached an agreement on conclusions for the implementation of the Farm to Fork Strategy. It is intended that these should then also be taken into account in preparing Council conclusions on the Biodiversity Strategy.

Trilogue

The trilogue negotiations between representatives of the Council and of the European Parliament – under the mediation of the Commission – play a central role in EU legislation. These negotiations are based on the respective negotiation mandates. In the Council, these mandates are generally issued by the Council on the basis of a politically endorsed complete text (the so-called General Approach). The trilogue discussions make it possible to find compromises in good time and to conclude legislative acts at an early stage of the procedure. The trilogue negotiations aim to agree on a joint text which then still has to be formally approved by the European Parliament and the Council.

Animal welfare and food labelling issues

The German Council Presidency is further seeking to advance animal welfare and food labelling issues. The aim is to assess and harmonise at EU level the possibilities of introducing an EU-wide animal welfare label and an EU-wide uniform extended nutritional labelling system.

Sustainable fisheries

In the second half of the year, fisheries issues are also traditionally on the agenda of Council meetings. This includes setting the fishing quotas for the following year.

The quotas for various marine regions have been negotiated and agreed on in October on the basis of scientific recommendations.

In addition to that, the autonomous tariff quotas for fisheries imports are to be set in the december Council meeting.

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