Minister Luis Planas visits the European Parliament

Progress in the sustainability of agricultural and fishing activities will be Spain's priorities during the EU presidency

News - 2023.1.17

Making progress on the sustainability of agricultural and fishing activities and food systems will be at the heart of the issues that will mark Spain's agenda of priorities during its presidency of the European Union, which it will hold in the second half of the year. During these six months, seven councils of agriculture and fisheries ministers will be held, two of them of an informal nature in Cordoba and Vigo.

To make progress in preparing for the EU Presidency, the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Luis Planas, has held meetings in Strasbourg with the chairmen of the European Parliament's Agriculture and Rural Development and Fisheries Committees, Norbert Lins and Pierre Karleskind, respectively, whom he has informed of Spain's main objectives for the last six months of 2023.

The minister explained that in addition to presenting a first approximation of the Spanish Presidency's approaches, the aim of these meetings was also to collect ideas and suggestions that may be of interest to the parliament. He recalled that these six months will be the last in which legislative dossiers can be finalised before next year's European elections.

The minister subsequently also held two other working meetings with Spanish MEPs from the different political parties that make up these committees. The ministry is working ahead of schedule and already has a very advanced calendar of events and agendas, including the advance agendas for each of the seven Councils of Ministers scheduled between July and December.

During the Spanish Presidency, the European Commission is expected to present the legislative proposal for the framework initiative on healthy food systems. Progress should also be made on the regulation for the sustainable use of phytosanitary products, which is currently subject to the presentation of the environmental impact report requested by the Council of Ministers in December, and on the modification of the regulation on Protected Geographical Indications.

One of the Spanish presidency's objectives is to give impetus to the debate on new genomics techniques in plant production, which will be the subject of the informal council to be held in September in Cordoba. The minister explained that this is "a fundamental issue for the future of an agriculture that is capable of fighting and resisting climate change, using less water and fewer phytosanitary products of mineral origin".

The regulation of food information for consumers, with issues such as front-of-pack nutrition labelling, will also be on the Council's agenda during the Spanish presidency. Among the non-legislative issues, the Spanish Presidency will ask the European Commission to take stock of the application of the national strategic plans of the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) after its first year in force.

In the area of fisheries, the minister firstly highlighted the debate on the decarbonisation of the activity and the need to introduce a change in the orientation of the financing of the fishing fleet to promote a true renewal and modernisation of the fleet, which will be the monographic theme of the informal council in Vigo. "If we want greater selectivity of catches, greater safety for our fishermen and generational replacement, it is necessary to improve the comfort of the vessels," explained the minister.

The Spanish Presidency will also work to ensure that the distribution of Total Allowable Catches (TACs) and quotas is not carried out on an annual basis, as it has been until now, but with a longer time horizon to favour the planning of fishing companies. Spain considers it essential that the EU's fisheries agreements with third countries, such as Morocco, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau and Côte d'Ivoire, which are due to expire soon, be renewed in time to avoid any interruption of fishing activity. Spain, which has the largest fishing fleet in the EU, has important interests in all of these agreements.

Non official translation