Greece has pledged to push through the implementation of Common Agricultural Policy reform as soon as possible.
That was the message delivered by the country’s minister for rural development and food, Athanasios Tsaftaris, at an informal EU Farm Council meeting in Athens this week – Greece currently holds the EU presidency.
With the current commission’s term of office coming to a close at the May elections, EU Commissioner for Agriculture Dacian Ciolos added that in the final months of his office-holding he would work closely with members states to ensure that programmes are workable.
He said the next immediate steps would be the adoption of Partnership Agreements (PA) – the framework that each member state is putting together to ensure a complementarity and co-ordination with EU rules. “It seems as if the first PA will be adopted very soon (Denmark, on Monday), with virtually all others already submitted and under consideration,” added Mr Ciolos.
The commissioner said how member states fit new Cap instruments, including the rural development programmes, into a broader, national strategy was really important.
He said he will be seeking out information on how member states plan to implement their options for allocating direct payments – these must be submitted by August 1.
“In order to aid and stimulate this process, I have suggested to the Greek Presidency that we have an information debate, for example at the June Council, to see how member states use the flexibility open to them,” added Mr Ciolos.
The Greek presidency also used the informal Farm Council meeting to raise its own agenda item of Agri Diversity.
Focused on capitalising on the EU position as the biggest global exporter of food at around 23%, Mr Tsaftaris said there is much more to be made of food from distinct regions within the 28 member states, citing that the Special Committee of Agriculture was looking to establish three new food quality marks such as originating from mountains or islands, and built on the diversity and heritage of many of Europe’s regional foods.
“The marks aim to build additional export opportunities for communities and will not overlap existing food marks or geographic origin definitions, but will raise awareness of the cultural value, importance and tradition of products such as Greek Feta which has been produced in our country since the times of Homer’s Ilyad,” said Mr Tsaftaris.
Mr Ciolos added that the new labels would be a flexible instrument in the “Cap toolkit” for member states to adopt.