Find the provisional version of the press release following the Council meeting in 15th December here
On CAP reform, the statement says the following:
Ministers had an exchange of views on a proposal for a regulation on support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) (the rural development regulation) within the framework of the common agricultural policy (CAP). The debate concentrated on the actions envisaged to address new challenges within the second pillar as well as the instruments proposed under rural development and their definition. Most of the delegations noted that the content of the proposal could only be correctly assessed when the repartition of the envelope by Member State for the second pillar will be known.
As regards the way to address new challenges within the second pillar, a number of Member States considered the proposal went in the right direction. However several Member States would like that the proposal focus more on innovation and competitiveness. In addition, a vast majority of delegations stressed that there is a need to ensure that the common strategic framework putting the EAFRD in line with structural funds will be consistent with the objective of simplification of the CAP.
The instruments proposed were generally well perceived, although some Member States considered that a better clarification of some aspects would be useful. Flexibility to take into account the specificity of each country at the national or regional level as well as the simplification of the procedures would be essential. Most of the delegations considered that the management risk toolkit could become a useful instrument. Some countries feel that the definition of less favoured areas is not precise enough: this would mean that some areas normally covered could be excluded from this scheme.
The proposal on rural development is part of the CAP reform package which was presented by the Commission during the Agriculture Council meeting in October. On that occasion, the Council held a public debate on the whole package.
Together with the proposals on direct payments, on the single common market organisation (CMO) and on the financing of the CAP, the proposal for a regulation on rural development is one of the four main proposals to be adopted by the Council and the European Parliament (ordinary legislative procedure).