The topic of the informal meeting was Sustainability, growth and consumers’ needs before and after 2020. The discussion material prepared beforehand by the Latvian Presidency on this topic indicated the most significant problems currently facing the sector.
In response to a proposal from the Latvian Presidency, Member State Ministers assessed which existing policy instruments were successful in solving various problems in the field of organic farming and what instruments should be applied in the future.
Ministers expressed their opinions on how to enhance consumers’ trust in organic products to remove doubts about the high quality of these products. Ministers also suggested a way for EU Member States to provide themselves with plant and animal reproductive material for the production of organic products, as there is currently a deficit of such reproductive material in the EU. The conditions for the coexistence of conventional and organic farming were regarded as crucial. Necessary changes to organic production legislation to ensure equal competition and exclude risks of fraud were also debated by the Ministers.
“Today’s ministerial debates demonstrated just how diverse the solutions can be to future situations that could arise in organic agriculture, as mentioned in the discussion document prepared by the Latvian Presidency. I hope that answers provided by my colleagues will be useful for future work done by all of us: the Member States, future Presidencies and the Commission,” said the Council Chair and Latvian Minister for Agriculture, Jānis Dūklavs, after the meeting.
The discussions also touched upon the proposal for a Regulation on organic agriculture. The Council has already been working on this technically complicated Regulation under three Presidencies in order to reach a sufficiently clear Council position and start a trilogue with the European Parliament. Although the Ministers for Agriculture did not discuss the proposal for a Regulation directly, some did mention it, pointing out the importance of maintaining and enhancing consumers’ trust in organic agriculture standards. The Ministers also had an opportunity to informally discuss the compromise solutions proposed by the Latvian Presidency so that the Agriculture Council meeting on 16 June in Luxembourg could adopt the EU Council position on the proposal for a Regulation.
It was very important for the Presidency to receive as clear an indication as possible from the Ministers so as to understand how flexible they would be in clarifying their position when adopting the compromise offered by the Presidency. Just as important for the Presidency was to find out what specifically needs to be improved so that Member States would give their acceptance.
The Chair of the European Parliament Committee on Agricultural and Rural Development, Czesław Adam Siekierski and the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, participated in this informal meeting of EU Ministers for Agriculture in Latvia, along with officials from the EU Member States and representatives of EU non-governmental organisations.
During the informal meeting, participants visited the Buku audzētava organic farm in Valgunde parish.
Press conference following the meeting