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December 2018
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EDITO
Wednesday, 12 December 2018
Commission proposes improved rules on agricultural quality products
The European Commission has adopted two proposals to clarify and streamline rules for protected geographical indications (PGI), protected designations of origin (PDOs) and “traditional specialities guaranteed”. The draft regulations will ensure full compatibility with the findings of a recent WTO panel.
“The Commission intends to implement a more efficient and fully WTO-compatible registration procedure for special products of this type,” said Mariann Fischer Boel, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development. “The system is a cornerstone of the EU’s quality policy and our drive to improve the protection of geographical indications internationally. I look forward to working with Council and Parliament in order to meet the WTO deadline of April 2006”.
Since the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, quality policy has been playing an increasingly prominent role. The number of regional and speciality products for which denominations are registered under EU quality schemes now stands at 720 and continues to grow.
In order to improve make the registration process more efficient, the Commission is proposing to simplify procedures and clarify the role of Member States. The centrepiece of these proposals is the definition of a well-defined “single document” for applications containing all the necessary information for registration, information and inspection purposes and which will be published. The proposals also seek to boost the image of the labels and the use of the EU logos with a view to increasing consumer recognition.
In a panel ruling issued in 2004, the WTO upheld the integrity of the EU’s geographical indications system and rejected the majority of the claims made by the United States and Australia. These regulations will bring the scheme into conformity on the two areas that were criticised: firstly by formally deleting the requirement for “reciprocity and equivalence” from the regulations and secondly by allowing third country operators to submit applications and objections directly rather than through their governments. The deadline for implementing the ruling is set to expire in April 2006.
The proposals clarify the roles of Member States and streamlines procedures and will form a sound basis for the future development of the EU’s Quality Policy.
The use of colour is a practical way of identifying the composition of the parliamentary week, where each of the calendar’s four colours corresponds to a specific parliamentary activity.
- Red
In the calendar, the twelve weeks marked in red are when the monthly plenary sittings are held. During these sittings all MEPs meet in public in the chamber in Strasbourg. Around six additional two-day sittings also take place in Brussels. As there is effectively no parliamentary business during August, a further sitting is organised in Strasbourg in September. It is during these plenary sittings that MEPs take the most important decisions. This is when the Parliament votes to adopt its position on legislative issues (directive, regulation or resolution).
- Pink
Before being submitted, debated and voted on in plenary session, all proposed legislation is first discussed by MEPs in parliamentary committees. They scrutinise and amend proposals from the Commission and Council and, if the need arises, they draft a report which will be submitted to the plenary session. Committee chairmen coordinate their work within the Conference of Committee Chairmen. There are 20 committees and each specialises in a particular field (such as the environment, the internal market, transport and agriculture). They meet once or twice a month in Brussels and pink is the colour used in the calendar to identify these committee meetings.
- Blue
Blue represents the weeks devoted to meetings of the political groups. MEPs are grouped together on the basis of political affiliation rather than nationality. Although MEPs cannot belong to more than one political group, it is possible for a member not to belong to any group. In such a case they are known as “non-attached” members. Every month, Parliament’s members meet within their groups to discuss proposed legislation which will come up at the plenary session, which is why blue weeks generally precede red weeks. It is during these meetings that the political groups set their priorities and take positions on the main issues on the agenda.
- Yellow
Lastly, there are the so-called “yellow” weeks, during which there is no political activity at the European Parliament. During these periods, usually four times a year, MEPs concentrate on their constituencies. They are free to meet with the electorate without the need to travel to Strasbourg or Brussels.
Tuesday, 10 January 2006
The ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) was created out of a common desire to bring together the elected representatives of the European Community - the Members of the European Parliament - and the elected representatives of the African, Caribbean and Pacific states ("ACP countries") that have signed the Cotonou Agreement: it is the only institution of its kind in the world.
It is the only international assembly in which the representatives of various countries sit together regularly with the aim of promoting the interdependence of North and South.
In the 10th session of the JPA held in edinburg, five areas of interest were discussed: (i) Agricultural commodities; (ii) Natural disasters; (iii) EPAs; (iv) Fisheries and (v) Energy. See report attached.

The dates and venue of the next JPA sessions for 2006 are:
- 11th session: Vienna, Austria, 16 to 23 June 2006 (dates to be confirmed)
- 12th session: Barbados, 18 to 24 November 2006 (dates to be confirmed)
The first of January 2006 marks a significant milestone for food safety in the EU, with the entry into application of a large updated body of food and feed legislation. The Food “Hygiene Package”, the Regulation on microbiological criteria for foodstuffs, the Regulation on official feed and food controls, and the Feed Hygiene Regulation, constitute a complementary set of rules to tighten and harmonise EU food safety measures. These laws will apply at every point in the food chain, in line with the EU’s “farm to fork” approach. A key aspect of the new legislation is that all food and feed operators, from farmers and processors to retailers and caterers, will have primary responsibility for ensuring that food put on the EU market meets the required safety standards.
- Food Hygiene: a comprehensive package
Adopted in 2004, the “Hygiene Package” is a streamlined body of legislation that sets down stricter, clearer and more harmonised rules on the hygiene of foodstuffs, specific hygiene rules for food of animal origin, and specific rules for controls on products of animal origin intended for human consumption. General rules are laid down for all food, while specific measures are included for meat and meat products, bivalve molluscs, fishery products, milk and dairy products, eggs and egg products, frogs’ legs, snails, animal fats, gelatine and collagen.
Under the food hygiene legislation, the onus is placed on food operators to ensure that food reaching EU consumers is safe. They will have to apply compulsory self-checking programmes and follow the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles in all sectors of the food industry, other than at farm level (see Memo). The legislation foresees the establishment of guides to good practice, at either EU or national level to assist food operators with the implementation of self-checking programmes, and all food operators will have to be registered. Imported products will be required to meet the same standards as EU goods under the new rules.
- Microbiological Criteria: reducing food-borne diseases
Microbiological criteria are used to measure the safety of foodstuffs based on absence, presence or the number of microorganisms present per unit of mass/volume/area/batch. The new Regulation harmonises and modernises EU microbiological criteria for foodstuffs, with the aim of increasing consumer protection and reducing food-borne illnesses.
- Feed Hygiene: added assurance
Many food crises (e.g. dioxins) have started with contaminated feed. Regulation 183/2005 on Feed Hygiene provides rules on the production, transport, storage and handling of animal feed, with a view to ensuring safer feed and thus safer food. As with food operators, feed businesses have primary responsibility for ensuring the safety of products put on the market. They will have to apply the HACCP self-checking principles, keep records of production and marketing, be registered with the national authorities, and undergo mandatory training. Of particular importance is the liability of feed operators to pay for the costs, such as withdrawal from the market and destruction of feed, if something goes wrong with as a result of infringements of EU feed safety legislation. The Regulation covers all types of feed and the entire range of feed business operators. However, there is some flexibility for small businesses and remote regions, for which Member States may put in place appropriate solutions based on the local situation, without compromising the objective of food safety.
- Official Food and Feed Controls: enhancing enforcement
New rules for controls on all food and feed production will also have to be applied from 1 January 2006, both in the EU and in third countries wishing to export to the EU. The Official Food and Feed Controls Regulation sets out harmonised EU control systems, covering both food and feed safety, and animal health and welfare standards.
- Implementing Rules
The Hygiene Package and Official Food and Feed Controls Regulation are completed with a series of implementing rules. The main aim in drawing up the implementing measures was to ensure that the new food hygiene rules can be implemented without excessive burden to food operators and businesses.
The Commission also produced 3 guidance documents and a DVD, to provide advice and direction to food business operators and Member States on a number of different aspects of the new food safety legislation.
The European Commission, on behalf of the EU and Cape Verde, have concluded a new 5-year fisheries partnership to replace the previous agreement which ended last June. The new agreement will be effective from 1 September 2006 to 31 August 2011. It will provide fishing possibilities exclusively on tuna for 84 vessels: 25 senners, 11 pole-and-line vessels and 48 surface long-liners. The EU financial contribution will amount to € 385,000 per year. Most of this amount -€ 325,000 - relates to catches of 5,000 tonnes per year and an additional annual allocation of € 60,000 to help promote sustainable fisheries through support to the implementation of Cape Verde’s fisheries policy. In total, 80% of the financial contribution will be dedicated to the promotion of the sustainability of this policy. This includes support to strengthen scientific research and the development of the small-scale fishing fleet. The two parties agree on the need for Cape Verde to put in place the necessary means to control fisheries activities and to combat illegal fishing activities. Before the agreement enters into force, it has to be signed by the two Parties. In the case of the Union, this will be done by the Council and the European Parliament.