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Elizabeth Truss - Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

My Hon friend, the Minister of State for Farming, Food and Marine Environment (George Eustice), represented the UK at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 11 April in Luxembourg.

Two fisheries items were presented. Firstly by the Presidency, on the framework for the collection, management and use of data in the fisheries sector. Commissioner Vella, DG Environment, presented the second item on the proposal on the conservation of fishery resources and the protection of marine ecosystems through technical measures. Most Member States, including the UK, welcomed moves to increase regionalisation and to simplify the legislation. The UK and Denmark mentioned the need to allow enough flexibility to take account of the development of new technologies and techniques.

Moving on to Agriculture, Commissioner Katainen, DG SANTE, explained that there are opportunities for agriculture in the fund for investment and innovation for 2015-2018 in particular through the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI). Member States generally welcomed the further financing options and were keen to explore how EFSI could be used.

Commissioner Hogan, DG Agriculture, updated Member States on the market situation support measures. During this agenda item four related AOBs were addressed: the crisis in the dairy market; the modification of the implementation rules to be provided for the planned support scheme for the fruit and vegetable producers with regard to the embargo established by the Russian Federation; the extension of the final date for submission of aid applications; and, pig meat exports to the Russian Federation.

There was a full round of interventions from Member States who maintained their existing positions on the market crisis. The UK, Denmark and Sweden stressed the need for longer term solutions, many of which are already underway such as the opening of new markets with international trade deals. The UK also referenced the work it is progressing with the European Investment Bank to help farmers manage global price volatility and manage risk.

Any other business items

Germany introduced the AOB item on combating food fraud in the EU, which was an update on a joint project undertaken by Europol and Interpol. There was support for the paper by 13 Member States, including the UK.

Austria, supported by 12 other Member States, tabled an item on the negotiation of the Association Agreement between the European Union and Mercosur. The Commission highlighted the benefits of new trade deals and noted a new impact assessment is being prepared.

Luxembourg introduced an item on the 38th Conference of EU Paying Agencies where it was concluded that audit procedures needed to be stabilised and longer term simplification needs to continue. The UK intervened, echoing calls for more proportional sanctions and simpler audits.

Lithuania presented the outcome of the political forum on Rethinking the Food Supply Chain. It concluded that national laws should be used to strengthen supply chains.


Amber Rudd - Department for Energy and Climate Change

Today my noble hon Friend the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth) has made the following statement:

I attended the Joint Transport and Environment Informal Council in Amsterdam on 14th and 15th April.

The main focus of the meeting was on the future of European transport, the challenges in the transition to a zero-emissions economy and the steps that should be taken in the EU to develop a sustainable and smart transport and mobility system.

On 14th April, Environment Ministers were invited to discuss Green Mobility and the possibilities of hastening and scaling up the transition towards cleaner fuels and zero-emissions mobility. I outlined the UKs approach to the future development of new car CO2 emissions regulation that promotes a quicker transition to low emission vehicles. In parallel, Transport Ministers were invited to discuss Smart Mobility and asked in particular to offer reflections on the proposed Amsterdam Declaration on Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs), where Department for Transport officials offered support. Discussion focused on the ways Europe could adopt a more coordinated approach, to ensure the technologies would be developed with interoperability in mind and the main challenges with respect to legislation, Co-operative Intelligent Transport Systems, liability, data protection and privacy.

Following lunch, I participated in a joint visit to an Innovation Expo showcasing more than 200 projects and innovative designs on various topics. I then attended a joint Transport & Environment interactive session on Innovating for the Future where Ministers were invited to explore future scenarios for smart and green mobility, and discuss their priorities for achieving these future scenarios.

The following day, Transport & Environment Ministers were invited jointly to discuss the follow up to COP21 in International aviation and shipping. The focus was on how both Transport and Environment Ministers could best work together, and how Europe could contribute to negotiations at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Overall, there was positive momentum during this discussion, with Ministers recognising the link between international aviation and shipping emissions and the long term goal set out in the Paris Agreement. In the context of the negotiations to agree a global market-based measure in ICAO, Ministers also recognised the importance of achieving carbon neutral growth of international aviation from 2020 and the inclusion of a review mechanism to increase ambition over time. There was strong support for progress in the IMO to agree a global system to collect data on fuel consumption of ships and subsequent development of a work plan to identify international shipping's fair share of global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Transport Ministers also met to discuss how the transport sector is, or will be, affected by border controls in the Schengen area. This session touched on Transport Security presenting Member States with the opportunity to convey their condolences following the recent tragedy in Brussels and also to exchange views on transport security measures.

 


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