Minister of Agriculture Guðni Ágústsson in Brussels

On the 1 and 2 February 2007 Mr. Guðni Ágústsson, the Icelandic Minister of Agriculture met with EU Commissioners responsible for agriculture and rural development and food safety and animal health. He also met with Ms. Lilja Vidarsdottir from the EFTA Secretariat and Mr. Kristján Andri Stefánsson from the EFTA Surveillance Authority, to discuss the activities of the institutions and the implementation of the EEA Agreement.

 In the meeting with Commissioner Markos Kyprianou, the Minister discussed the incorporation of EU veterinary regulations in the area of agriculture, but Iceland has up to now been exempted from those rules. He explained the good status of animal health in Iceland that will not be possible to put to risk by importation of life animals from the EU.  The Minister also stressed Iceland’s view with regard to the EU ban to use fishmeal in food for ruminants and got explanations on the handling of this matter within the Commission and in the EU Parliament, that has too a large extent been based on politics as well as food safety.  The Minister then discussed EU´s training programmes for safer food.  Commissioner Kyprianou stated at the meeting that Iceland would have the same access to the training programme as the EU Member States.

At the meeting with Mariann Fischer Boel, the Commissioner for Agriculture and rural development, the Minister discussed the bilateral Agreement on Agriculture between Iceland and the EU, which is based on Article 19 of the EEA Agreement.    The Commissioner said that there should not be obstacles on behalf of the EU Member States and the bilateral agreement should enter into force on 1 March.  They also discussed the EU´s request to revise the provisions of Protocol 3 to the EEA Agreement on trade in agricultural products. In addition the Minister and the Commissioner discussed the necessity to simplify in general the agricultural policy and the developments of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in that direction.  In the view of Commissioner Fischer, production quotas for milk are no longer justifiable in the EU single payment system. The current agreements on milk quota expire in 2015 and it would be right to abolish them at that time. Finally they touched upon the Doha negotiations and were of similar opinion as regards the demands of the countries that want the most liberalization in agriculture and the necessity to protect domestic agriculture and the role of agriculture in rural development.

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