George Eustice – 2018 Statement on Agriculture and Fisheries Council

Below is the text of the statement made by George Eustice, the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, in the House of Commons on 26 April 2018.

The Agriculture and Fisheries Council took place in Luxembourg on 16 April. Counsellor Rory O’Donnell represented the UK.

The most substantive agricultural item was a presentation by the European Commission setting out a proposal for a directive on “unfair trading practices in business-to-business relationships in the food supply chain”. The Commission’s presentation highlighted the UK’s Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) as an example of best practice in this field. The UK outlined its agreement with member state action to tackle unfair trading practices, but stressed the need for any proposed EU-wide legislation to protect well-functioning existing national systems.

The Bulgarian presidency also provided the Council with an update on food losses and food waste, following the adoption of Council conclusions on tackling food waste in June 2016. The Council reaffirmed its commitment to meeting UN sustainable development goal 12.3 on food waste.

For fisheries, the focus of this Council was a presentation by the European Commission outlining a proposed multi-annual plan for fish stocks in western waters. The UK welcomed the proposal’s alignment of the western waters plan with the approach taken in the North sea plan, while reminding Council of the need to find solutions for by-catch stocks in the context of meeting the landing obligation.

Four further items were discussed under “any other business”:

the Spanish delegation requested clarification on interpreting the landing obligation in article 15 of the common fisheries policy

the presidency informed the Council of the outcomes of the TAIEX workshop on the role of wildlife in animal health management

the Polish and Danish delegations presented information on African swine fever

the European Commission informed Council about a proposed regulation on the transparency and sustainability of the EU risk assessment in the food chain.