Priorities of the Czech EU Presidency

1. Common Agricultural Policy reform and future form of direct payments

One of the key topics of the Czech EU Presidency will be the review of the budget focusing on all aspects of EU expenditure, i.e. including expenditure on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The basic objective of the planned budget review is the gradual rationalisation of the disbursement of EU funding. Within the CAP, the Czech Republic will emphasise the main merit of the revision, which is the gradual reduction of the CAP’s proportion of the overall budget expenditure and the transfer of the funding from the first pillar to the second pillar, i.e. in favour of rural areas. This is related to the discussion on the future of direct payments and the entire first pillar of the CAP after 2013. The Czech Republic will strive for equal conditions for all EU Member States to be the outcome of these discussions, not only in respect to the amount of direct payments but also in respect to the system of their disbursement, which must respect the diversity of the agricultural models in the Member States. The Czech Republic welcomes the extension of the application of the single area payment scheme (SAPS) for the new Member States until the end of 2013. Provided the issues concerning the specific approach to sensitive sectors are resolved, the Czech Republic will be prepared to support a model similar to SAPS after 2013 as one of the possible forms of future distribution of direct payments within the entire EU. Issues related to the future of direct payments are planned to be one of the topics of the informal meeting of the Council of Ministers for Agriculture and Fisheries during the Czech Presidency.

2. Agricultural Product and Foodstuffs Quality Policy

The Czech Republic will strive to develop a debate on the revision of the EU quality policy which will guarantee a long-term perspective for the quality of agricultural and food products, especially those bearing the registered protected geographical indications (PGI) and the protected designations of origin (PDO). It will stimulate discussions on their promotion on the EU internal market as well as on the strengthening of their position towards third countries.

With the objective to strengthen the competitiveness of European production, and with regard to the fact that the Czech Republic has been, for a long time, addressing the issues of protection of high-quality products and has applied for the highest number of protected geographical indications and protected designations of origin of all the new Members States, it is in the interest of the Czech Republic to actively develop these policies further and to participate in their promotion. The Czech Republic will especially support efforts leading to the simplification and shortening of the unreasonably long delays in the assessment procedures.

Other topics that the Czech Republic will seek to address will include the extent of the protection of the geographical indications and designations of origin, the status of the Traditional Specialty Guaranteed (TSG), registration procedures, changes in the definitions of the PGI and PDO, promotion, establishment of an agency, range of protected products and the EU logo.

The Commission already presented the Green Paper on quality policy during the French Presidency. In addition to the PGI, PDO and TSG, the Green Paper also addresses issues related to the certification of food quality or the designation of the country of origin. The Czech Republic will organise a high-level conference on this topic and will seek to stimulate discussion at Council level.

3. Simplification of the Common Agricultural Policy

Simplification of the Common Agricultural Policy – From the point of view of the Czech Republic (and most of the other Member States), this is a priority issue in view of the future functioning of the CAP including a number of aspects (revoking unnecessary legislation, amending regulations in order to render them more effective, sharing best practices during the implementation, unifying the implementation (cross compliance, GAEC, administration of payments, etc. – see below). A number of Member States, including the Czech Republic, often criticise the approach of the European Commission towards new proposals (such as the sugar and wine reform, health check). The political compromises between the Member States thus affect both the ambition to simplify and the contents.

The simplification of agricultural legislation arises from a broad-based programme of the European Commission for 2004-2009 which includes a process (the so-called simplification) of revocation of obsolete and unnecessary legislation and better regulation (legislation amendments to enhance efficiency). Since the mandate of this Commission is drawing to an end, DG AGRI, having been assigned by Mariann Fischer Boel, began to prepare the Simplification Report on meeting the goals set for simplification and better regulation of agricultural legislation from 2005 to this day.

4. Rural development and delimitation of LFAs (less favoured areas)

In rural development, the Czech Republic will strive for a balanced development aiming to promote employment and entrepreneurship and focusing on the encouragement of young people’s life in rural areas, development of education, research and diversification into non-agricultural activities, and the general improvement of life in rural areas. One of the strategic objectives of the rural development will include building up the technical infrastructure for the use of renewable energy sources.

During the Presidency, the Czech Republic will primarily focus on the issue of the new delimitation of the other LFAs. This is a very sensitive area for the Czech Republic, especially as concerns the criteria proposed by the European Commission to ensure unified use of indicators on the basis of natural disadvantages. The Czech Republic supports a new delimitation of the other less favoured areas according to biophysical criteria (climatic and soil-based) to be unified at Community level with the support of the extensive areas while strictly complying with the rules of economical management. At the same time, the Czech Republic believes that the Member States should be guaranteed a certain flexibility within the limits of the proposed criteria reflecting national differences. The definition of specific rules should fall within the competence of the Member States under the principle of subsidiarity. It is in the interest of the Czech Republic that the proposed and adopted solutions should be generally acceptable and should cause no dramatic changes in the area of LFAs.

 

Last update: 16.8.2011 16:01

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