Agriculture and the development of trade between the EU and third countries should be one of the central issues to be addressed by the Netherlands Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU). More specifically, during its presidency the Netherlands will focus on the EU negotiations for bilateral Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), including with the US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership; (TTIP) and the agreement with Japan. Regarding the agriculture, the Netherlands will try to simplify the CAP, in order to alleviate unnecessary regulatory burden on European farmers. Moreover, it will monitor closely sectors of concern, such as dairy and pig industry. On 1 January the Netherlands took over the presidency of the Council of the EU after a successful presidency held by Luxembourg, while in the first half of the year the presidency will pass to Slovakia.
Τhe priorities for agriculture
Given the importance of primary production to the economy and food security and the fact that the world faces the challenge of having to feed at least nine billion people by 2050, the Netherlands Presidency has announced solutions in climate-smart agriculture. That is reduction of food waste throughout the production and supply chain, both in Europe and beyond.
According to the Netherlands Presidency, it will hold an exchange of views on member states’ experience with the most recent Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform with a view to the future of the CAP after 2020. The Netherlands Presidency will also urge the Commission to take action in the shorter term to simplify the CAP. Current market conditions in various sectors, including dairy and pig farming, are cause for concern and will have the Netherlands Presidency constant attention.
Development of international trade
During the Netherlands Presidency the European trade agenda will be dominated by the negotiations on the EU’s FTAs, including with the US TTIP. When chairing the Foreign Affairs Council (Trade), the Netherlands Presidency will facilitate the Commission’s efforts in regard to the FTA negotiations and will work constructively with the European Parliament on concluding the legislative processes currently under way. The negotiations on the FTA between the EU and the US TTIP are a subject of public interest in the European Union. Given the European Council’s ambition of concluding the negotiations quickly, the Netherlands Presidency will work to move the process forward efficiently.
It is also possible that the negotiations on the EU-Japan FTA will be finalised during the Netherlands Presidency, that a start will be made on the launch of negotiations with Australia and New Zealand, and that the Commission will be given a mandate to modernise the existing FTA with Mexico. What is more, the Netherlands wants to be a galvanising force in the post-Nairobi debate on the future and role of the WTO in the multilateral trade system.
With regard to fisheries legislation, the Netherlands Presidency will aim to achieve more in-depth sustainability as agreed in the framework of the new CAP. Priority will be given to concluding agreements on multiannual plans for sustainable fish stock management and expanding the landing obligation to prevent food waste. These issues, too, must be seen in both the European and the wider global context: clean oceans are essential for global food security.