As a general rule, the EU's share of the financing would be 50%, the remaining 50% of costs being borne by the participating member state. As lower-income people tend to be more inclined to obesity and include less fruit and vegetables in their diet, the EU's contribution in poorer regions would amount to 75%.
The regulation establishing the scheme will be adopted by the Council at a later date, and all necessary arrangements should be put in place for the autumn term 2009.
Genetically modified soybean and cotton
At the meeting on 15 July, the Council confirmed that the qualified majority required in order to act on two Commission proposals concerning genetically modified plants could not be reached. The requests for authorisation to market products containing genetically modified soybean (A2704-12) or cotton (LLCotton25) were submitted to the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health, which was unable to issue an opinion.
Both plants have been developed by the chemical firm Bayer, which applied for authorisation to use the plants for food, food ingredients and feed. The plants have been made resistant to herbicides based on glufosinate ammonium. The authorisation does not cover cultivation in the EU.
Soybeans and cottonseed are processed into feed for cattle, pigs and chickens, or pressed into oil, which is refined for food applications. They are used in numerous food ingredients and additives such as beer, mayonnaise, dressings, sausage casings, vitamins and ice cream.
In the absence of a decision by the Committee, the Commission has, in accordance with the so-called "committee procedure", submitted the requests for authorisation to the Council, acting by a qualified majority. As the Council has not reached the required majority, the Commission can now give its authorisation, leaving open the possibility for the member states to invoke a safeguard clause to prevent the selling of products containing GMOs.
Soya and cotton are, together with maize and other oilseeds, the only GMOs which can legally be used for food in the European Union prior to authorisation.
Emergency aid for European fishermen
EU Fisheries Ministers at the Council meeting on 15 July agreed on a package of aid measures for European fishermen. They approved a Commission proposal for a temporary action to promote the restructuring of the sector. This will allow a two-year derogation from some rules of the European Fisheries Fund (EFF).
In particular, it will be possible for member states to grant emergency aid to fishermen who do not go to sea, for a maximum period of three months (starting before 30.11.2008). Enterprises benefiting from this measure must, however, be included within six months in an adaptation scheme leading to a significant cut in fishing capacity. Owners of vessels already subject to such a scheme may receive, in 2009, additional aid for the temporary cessation of fishing activities during three months prior to the permanent capacity reduction.
Ministers furthermore decided to increase incentives for permanent cessation of fishing activities. Ship-owners replacing old vessels by smaller and more energy efficient ones may receive a decommissioning premium for the capacity withdrawn. The Council also agreed to make more EFF funds available for investments in fuel-saving equipment and to promote research on technical improvements to reduce fuel consumption.
The fisheries sector continues to be an important economic factor in many coastal areas of the EU, offering employment to about 407 000 people. The European fishing fleet, however, currently faces a double challenge: due to over-fishing, EU catches have steadily declined (at an average of 2 % per year) since the early nineties, while first-sale fish prices have stagnated over the last decade. The economic situation of the sector has further deteriorated following the massive rise in oil prices over the past few years. Since 2002, marine fuel prices in the EU have increased by some 240 %. For some fishermen, fuel costs consume about 50 % of the landing value.
Council Press release (pdf)
Council webcast of Press conference
Economic and Financial Affairs Council (Budget), 17 July
General Affairs and External Relations Council, 22-23 July