The Presidency’s work on sovereignty and food self-sufficiency in the agricultural sector will focus on three priority areas.
Firstly, it will encourage Council discussions on reciprocal environmental and health production standards for European products and products imported from third countries with the aim of subjecting imported products to certain production requirements applied in the European Union where necessary, to strengthen the protection of health or the environment on the largest possible scale, in keeping with World Trade Organization rules (“mirror clauses”). This work will prioritise the introduction of sectoral mirror clauses.
The Presidency will also launch work on the regulation on deforestation-free imports, which will be a significant step towards greater account being taken of production standards for imported products.
Secondly, particular attention will be paid to low-carbon agriculture and carbon sequestration in agricultural soils to mark a step change towards the construction of a European mechanism to introduce recognised low-carbon labels Europe-wide and compensate climate change actions taken by farms and forestry holdings.
Thirdly, the French Presidency will promote initiatives to accelerate the agroecological transition and thereby reduce the use of pesticides, which is an integral part of the Farm to Fork Strategy for fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food systems. It will launch work on revising the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive (SUD) to speed the reduction in the use of pesticides in the European Union and promote and deploy an increase in the use of alternatives, taking care to ensure that no farmer is left without a solution. The purpose of this work is to achieve a more consistent definition of goals and enforcement of rules in the European Union and to preserve the EU’s food sovereignty, including in terms of reciprocal production standards.
In addition to these initiatives, the Presidency is preparing to take forward work on the proposal for a regulation on statistics on agricultural input and output in order to obtain an agreement among co-legislators on updating the regulatory framework governing such data collection; work on revising European legislation on geographical indications in order to strengthen this globally unique model protecting European product quality and geared to the sustainability of production methods; and work on revising the EU’s agricultural product promotion policy in order to strengthen this key policy while ensuring its consistency with the objectives of the European Green Deal.
The Presidency welcomes the June agreement obtained between the European Parliament and the Council under the Portuguese Presidency for a new, more sustainable Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the work accomplished under the Slovenian Presidency to publish the three founding regulations for the future CAP. It will ensure that ministers are fully engaged in the implementation of this reform and, in particular, in the approval process for the national strategic plans (NSPs) by the European Commission, and that they are able to debate the issues.
The French Presidency also intends to promote the European Union’s influence in multilateral bodies regarding issues relating to agriculture, broadly speaking, and food. Here, it will support the transition to sustainable food systems and will ensure the consistency of these international bodies’ strategies, decisions and standards with the European Green Deal, its associated strategies and European regulations.
Last but not least, the Presidency will initiate thinking on the strategy for the prevention and control of highly pathogenic avian influenza and experience sharing among Member States regarding farm animal welfare.
It will also address the developments needed for the Plant Health Law with respect to import control activities and certification of plant trade between Member States.