The Council of the European Union (or Council of Ministers) is the institution where all national Ministers regularly meet to discuss and formulate the policies for which they are responsible at an EU level. Every six months the Presidency of the Council rotates, with a set of three countries working as a ‘Trio’ over an 18 month period. The Trio set-up is designed to increase coherence and consistency. The three Member States work together to develop a work plan and set out key objectives for different policy areas in the EU agenda.
In January 2013, Ireland will take over the presidency, which is currently held by Cyprus. Ireland’s Trio partners are Lithuania (July-December 2013) and Greece (January-June 2014).
The role of the Presidency is to plan and chair most meetings of the Council of the EU, with different ministers taking responsibility for the relevant meetings. The Agriculture and Fisheries Council meets each month and is attended by farming minsters from all 27 Member States. During the Irish presidency the meeting’s will be chaired by Irish agricultural minister, Simon Coveney.
Last week, the Trio issued a document outlining their official priorities for the EU agenda during the time they will hold the presidency. In terms of agriculture and the Commom Agricultural Policy, the document states that the Council’s progress will depend on the rhythm and pace of the foreseen intensive negotiations between the EU Parliament and the Council in the first semester of 2013, as well as on the progress made in the negotiations on the EUs post-2013 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF).
The final Agriculture Council meeting under the Cypriot presidency took place in Brussels on December 18 and 19 December. At the meeting, the Presindency presented a Progress report on the CAP reform. Find it in all EU languages here. The report, which presents the Presidency’s opinion on progress achieved and issues outstanding in the reform negotiations, is divided into four main parts, each covering the relevant draft regulations:
- Latest draft direct payments regulation
- Latest draft single CMO regulation
- Latest draft rural development regulation
- Latest draft horizontal regulation
In absence of an agreement on the long-term CAP budget under the multiannual financial framework (MFF), the Cyprus Presidency has decided to drop its initial idea to table the so-called partial general agreement. Reacting to the report, Member States have called for further talks on issues such as ‘greening’ and internal convergence of subsidies. Environmental NGOs have strongly criticised the report and the direction in which the negotiations are currently heading, particularly in terms of the ongoing ‘greenwashing’. They call on the next presidency to shift the policy in a different direction so as to ensure a future for European farming and bring much needed legitimacy back to the policy.
On December 17th, Ireland launched their new presidency website which provides an overview of all Council meetings, priorities and background documents. The websites often also provide a country with a chance to promote its culture and society. See more here: www.eu2013.ie.