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The Polish Presidency and Agriculture: A Mixed Performance

The 6-month tenure of the Polish Presidency came to an end in 31 December 2011. Although the Polish Presidency will mainly be remembered for finalising the EU Budget 2012 & adopting the ‘six-pack’ agreement, it also had some important results for agriculture. Such results include the informal agreement on the EU dairy package, the temporary solution for the ‘Aid for the Needy’ scheme for 2012 and 2013, the unanimous decision on the Green Paper on promotion measures and information provision for agricultural products, the compromise reached on biocides being more environmentally friendly and safer for user and the success of the Durban Climate Conference.

Moreover, a live debate has been started during the Polish Presidency on the Commission’s proposal package regarding the CAP post-2013, published in 12 October 2011. In their final meeting under the Polish Presidency, Agricultural Ministers did not support the Common Strategic Framework and the 5% performance reserve, but welcomed the general orientation of rural development measures. However, it was also stressed that objective criteria, rather than past performance, should be the basis of the allocation of funds under the Pillar 2 and the Council also called for further clarification on the relationship between the ‘greened’ Pillar 1 measures and agri-environment initiatives under Pillar 2. Furthermore, Agricultural Ministers have started to discuss the fishing opportunities for certain fish stocks in detail and also debated on the proposed European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.

Besides all these results, critical opinions also appear on the performance of the Polish Presidency regarding agriculture. In its recent Report, the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), for instance, believes that the Polish Presidency missed the opportunity to seriously involve the Environment Council in the debate on the CAP post-2013 as well as to create the link to the biodiversity strategy. Although Environment Ministers could express their views on the CAP debate, they failed to endorse Commission’s greening proposals. The general conclusion of the EEB Report is even worse, stating that the Polish Presidency “has at best failed to catalyse progress and at worst been responsible for regressive moves in key sectoral areas such as energy and agriculture” – thereby referring to Poland’s heavy fossil fuel dependence and its strong farming lobby.

The ARC in a recent post also expressed her concerns on effects of the farming lobby on decision making and accuses the Polish Presidency by not making any serious attempts to gather all the key stakeholders around the table for fruitful debates and labels the open debate organised in the European Parliament on 23rd November as ‘a closed discussion among large farmers’ representatives’. The major concern of the ARC is that proposals for greening direct payments were rejected as ‘green tape’ and that ecological infrastructure building was dismissed as ‘irresponsible set aside of land in times of global food insecurity’ during the Polish Presidency.

Nevertheless, life is going on and the Danish Presidency has taken over, the programme of which was officially presented today at a press conference in Copenhagen. By reading the programme, it becomes evident that agricultural and environmental issues will play a key role in the agenda under the ‘Green Europe’ focus area, seeking to integrate resource and energy efficiency together with climate and environmental considerations across the EU farm, fisheries and transport policies.

Picture on home page was downloaded from the Official Site of the Polish Presidency (http://pl2011.eu).

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