During the Presidency of the EU Finland launched the discussion concerning the state of the European model of agriculture and the challenges ahead for the agriculture sector in Europe at the meeting of the EU Agriculture Ministers in Oulu. All Member States welcomed this initiative, which also marked the starting point for the planning and development of the common agricultural policy after 2013. The next major challenges will be the simplification of the common agricultural policy, so-called health-checks, and mid-term review of the EU budget frameworks.
The Finnish Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Juha Korkeaoja is very pleased with the achievements. "The discussion on the future of the common agricultural policy has got off to a good start. It is noteworthy that this is the first time when the eastern European countries are also involved in the decision-making processes. Despite the obvious challenges due to the enlargement, the work has gone very well."
The proposal for a regulation on spirit drinks presented by the Presidency won extensive support in the Council. The decision on the proposal will be made in accordance with the codecision procedure with the European Parliament. The Parliament will take a vote on its opinion in the plenary session in March 2007. Very likely the decision will follow the proposal made by Finland.
The priorities of the Finnish Presidency included the report concerning the aid scheme for energy crops and the Commission proposal for amending the scheme. The majority of the Member States support the extension of the aid scheme to all Member States. The decision on the proposal was made in the December Agriculture and Fisheries Council. The decisions on the reform of the banana sector, which used to be considered quite problematic, were also made at the December meeting. For the most part the aid for banana producers will be incorporated into the existing POSEI programme for the agricultural sectors of the outermost regions of the EU.
A general approach concerning organic production and labelling of organic products was reached at the December Council.