The commissioner told a lunch meeting of EU agriculture ministers that the group will study whether new arrangements should be put in place that can further contribute to stabilising the market and producers’ incomes, reducing price volatility and enhancing market transparency. Milk quotas are due to expire on 1 April 2015.
The commissioner also briefed ministers on the most recent package of proposals the commission is preparing to support the dairy market, and gave an update on the market situation, which shows that prices for dairy products are picking up.
“I’m pleased to say that the measures we’ve already taken are showing clear signs of having a positive effect on dairy prices,” said Fischer Boel. “But we also need to look further ahead. That’s why I suggested last month to set up a high-level group to look at the longer-term future. This will start work on 13 October and will be a chance for experts to look at all the issues facing dairying in the future. We need to try to reduce market volatility, improve transparency and discuss how farmers can improve their organisation.
“Meanwhile, we continue our work to solve the short-term problems faced by our milk farmers. In the coming days, we will authorise member states to pay farmers up to €15,000 in national aid. And I hope that the council will formally agree to our proposal to extend the safety net arrangements within the next couple of weeks.”
The HLG on milk will be chaired by the commission’s director general for agriculture and rural development, Jean-Luc Demarty, and will be composed of member state representatives. The commission intends to invite experts and stakeholders when appropriate to assist the HLG in its work.
It will meet once a month as a general rule and will deliver a report on a regular basis. It is invited to discuss the following items, though this list isn’t necessarily exhaustive:
Commissioner Fischer Boel also informed the ministers in detail about the latest package of immediate measures, presented on 17 September to the European Parliament, to support the dairy market. It is proposed that the dairy sector should be covered by a disturbance clause that already exists for other farm sectors, to allow a quicker response to future market disturbances.
Changes to the operation of quota buying-up schemes by member states will make sure that bought-up quota (which is kept in the national reserve) should no longer count as part of the national quota when it comes to deciding whether or not super levy is due. If super levy is then collected, the part corresponding to the bought-up quota can be used by member states for restructuring of the sector. The legislative proposals to put these ideas into practice should be adopted by the commission in the coming days.
Source: European Commission
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