HL Deb 20 May 1998 vol 589 c180WA
Lord Davies of Oldham

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What was the outcome of the informal Agriculture Council held on 10–12 May. [HL1878]

Lord Donoughue

As Chairman of the EU Agriculture Council, my right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food hosted an informal meeting of Agriculture Ministers in Newcastle upon Tyne from 10 to 12 May 1998. I represented the United Kingdom at that meeting.

In the course of the informal visit, my right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food was able to show our EU colleagues the efforts which the UK Government are making, in partnership with the farming industry, to help put our beef industry onto a sound footing for the future. In particular, our EU ministerial colleagues were given a comprehensive presentation of the cattle traceability system now being put in place in Great Britain with the aim of assuring consumers, retailers and farmers alike of the safety and reliability of our meat.

Linked to the theme of quality and sustainability of beef production, the informal EU Council went on to discuss, on the basis of a UK Presidency paper, the challenges facing EU livestock producers in environmentally fragile areas of the Union, and the measures open to EU governments to assist them. A wide-ranging debate on this important subject gave rise to a number of important policy considerations which will be taken forward in the negotiations on the Commission's Agenda 2000 proposals for agricultural reform.