Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools
You are here: Home topics Institutions Agriculture and Fisheries Council

Agriculture and Fisheries Council

25 September 2009
by inadim -- last modified 26 September 2009

The Agriculture and Fisheries Council is, together with the General Affairs and External Relations Council and the Ecofin Council, one of the Council's oldest configurations. It brings together once a month the Ministers for Agriculture and Fisheries and the European Commissioners responsible for agriculture and rural development, fisheries and maritime affairs, as well as consumer health and protection.


While agriculture has largely been covered by the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) since 1960, with fisheries incorporated in the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) since 1983, the first joint measures in this sector date from 1970. Management of the CAP and its budget are divided into two: firstly, the agricultural markets (1st pillar) bringing together all the Common Market Organisations (CMOs), and secondly, rural development (2nd pillar).

Under the heading "agriculture and fisheries", the Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers, assisted generally by the relevant Commissioners, Ms Fischer Boel, Mr Borg and Mr Kyprianou, meet on average once a month each year in Brussels – and in Luxembourg during the April, June and October sessions – to discuss and adopt legislative acts concerning those sectors.

The content of the agricultural and fisheries policies essentially involves regulation of the markets, organising production and establishing the resources available, improving horizontal agricultural structures and rural development.

The CAP underwent a thorough reform in June 2003. In future, the most commonly used budgetary instrument should be the single farm payment based on reference periods, which is decoupled from production in the case of livestock farming, arable crops and milk, and is conditional upon meeting criteria such as respect for the environment and animal welfare.

CFP legislation was also revised in December 2002. The principal changes brought about by this reform are the abolition of public aid for fleet renewal after 31 December 2004, the introduction of recovery plans for stocks below safe biological limits and management plans for stocks within safe biological limits, and the increase in premiums for the scrapping of vessels to achieve further reductions in fishing effort as a result of the recovery plans adopted for the period from 2003 to 2006.

Agriculture and fisheries are two of the European Union's integrated Community policies, with decisions taken at European level by the Council and a "communitarised" budget for each policy, i.e. decisions on the financing of measures are taken in the Council on the basis of a European budget (about EUR 45 billion) that is separate from the national budgets.

The proceedings of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council are prepared by 12 working parties spanning 45 subdivisions according to products (e.g. Working Party on Arable Crops (Rice)) or areas (e.g. Working Party on Horizontal Agricultural Questions, Agrimonetary Questions). The dossiers are then studied either by Coreper or by the Special Committee on Agriculture (SCA) before being forwarded to the Council. Coreper usually deals with fisheries and food safety issues and agri budgetary questions. As regards acts concerning agricultural markets and rural development, a special structure, the SCA, was established at the beginning of the 1960s to take account of the highly technical nature of these dossiers.

The agricultural and fisheries policies are governed by Title II (Agriculture) of the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC). This Title sets outs the objectives of the CAP in Article 33, describes the Common Market Organisations (CMOs) in agriculture in Article 34 and lays down the voting procedures in Article 37. Acts concerning food safety are governed by Titles XIII and XIV (Public health and consumer protection) of the Treaty. In this area the Council decides by qualified majority, either in consultation with the European Parliament (agriculture and fisheries) or by codecision (food safety).

Source: Council of the European Union