§ Lord Hughes of Woodside
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What was the outcome of the Agriculture Council held in Brussels on 27 September. [HL4173]
§ The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman)
The primary task of the Agriculture Council on 27 September was to agree to a statement on the agricultural aspects of the forthcoming WTO Round for transmission to the General Affairs Council (which will agree a mandate covering all aspects of the Round). This is a key issue for the development of EU agricultural policy over the coming years. The United Kingdom's main objectives were to ensure that the Council's conclusions fully reflected the goal of further liberalisation in agricultural trade and that they contained sufficient flexibility to enable the EU to respond constructively as the negotiations developed. These objectives were achieved in conclusions agreed unanimously by the Council.
The Council also heard a report from Commissioner Fischler on the Commission's contacts with third countries in seeking a solution to the dispute over the EU's banana regime. The UK stressed the importance of securing an outcome that would avoid further WTO challenges to the regime and addressed the needs of the most vulnerable banana producers in the Caribbean.
Commissioner Byrne updated the Council on the Commission's progress in its work programme of proposed animal feed measures, following the Belgian dioxin crisis. The UK supported the Commission's plans, while stressing the importance of adopting measures that were proportionate to the risk and defensible on safety grounds.
The Council heard a report from Commissioner Fischler on the implementation of the EU's food aid programme to Russia. It also noted Commissioner Byrne's undertaking to make proposals for legislation covering the labelling of genetically modified animal feed.