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Common Agriculture Policy

 

Organic farming

Organic farming differs in many respects from other approaches to agriculture, with its emphasis on renewable resources and returning nutrients to the soil through the land application of biomass arising in agriculture.

In addition, organic livestock farming prioritises the welfare of farm animals and the use of natural feeds. Organic farmers utilise natural systems to control pests and disease. Synthetic pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilisers, growth hormones, antibiotics and genetic engineering are avoided in agricultural production.

The “Regulation on organic production of agricultural products and indications referring thereto on agricultural products and foodstuffs” will be amended and simplified during the Austrian Presidency on the basis of the “European action plan for organic food and farming” presented by the Commission in June 2004.

 

Coexistence

Coexistence means the cultivation of GM (genetically modified) crops side-by-side with conventional and organic crops in a manner that safeguards the integrity of the GM and non-GM crops. There are already recommendations and guidelines at EU level for the development of national strategies and best practices, and one of Austria’s priorities for its Presidency is to continue the debate on the establishment of common rules. The Commission plans to submit a report based on an analysis of information from Member States on experience to date with the measures they have implemented.

A conference will be held in Vienna in spring (4-6 April 2006) during the Austrian Presidency to give stakeholders the opportunity to comment on the report and to discuss common approaches with a view to finding a possible Community arrangement.

 

Biomass action plan/biofuels

At the beginning of the Austrian Presidency, the Commission is expected to publish a communication on promoting the use of biofuels as a follow-up to the biomass action plan. Biofuels are liquid or gaseous fuels produced from biomass (renewable resources of plant or animal origin, e.g. rapeseed or sunflowers). They can be used as a substitute fuel for motor vehicles to replace some of the limited fossil fuels.

The purpose of the biomass action plan is to propose and discuss measures to approach the stipulated targets (12% share of renewable energy sources in energy consumption, 21% in electricity production, and 5.75% of all fuels placed on the market to be biofuels, in accordance with the 2003 Directive on the promotion of the use of biofuels). One of the priorities in the agriculture sector is to establish at Community level higher admixtures of alternative fuels (e.g. biofuels) in fossil motor fuels.

 

WTO (World Trade Organisation)

Globalisation has also left its mark on agriculture. The sector is increasingly affected by global economic and international developments. This process has led to the inclusion of agriculture in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreements. The EU’s agricultural policy must therefore increasingly take account of the international dimension, and in particular the WTO rules. Fair and balanced trade rules, which are binding on all WTO members, are also important to European agriculture

Negotiations are continuing in the Doha Round, in which the 148 WTO member countries are seeking to achieve an increase in world trade, particularly in the areas of industrial goods and services, and to conclude a new WTO agriculture agreement by the end of 2006.

Progress in the negotiations to date and the objectives with regard to conclusion of the Doha Round will be the subject of a ministerial declaration in December 2005 in Hong Kong. Austria will endeavour to ensure a balanced outcome in the agriculture sector, and also between the individual WTO negotiation packages (industrial goods, services, agriculture, etc.).

 

Date: 15.12.2005