Since the formal announcement last week, the response from both industry and NGO groups to the announcement that member states would take control of the decision-making process on GM has been overwhelmingly negative.
The UK farming unions each criticised the move, arguing that it would risk the European single market; Dr Helen Ferrier, NFU chief science and regulatory affairs adviser said: “Approval of GM feed and food must remain at an EU-wide level and must be firmly based on sound scientific evidence.
“National bans on imports would disrupt trade and threaten the single market, pushing up costs and damaging competitiveness across the whole supply chain.”
Speaking at an event in Lisbon, NFU Scotland President Allan Bowie said: “Opening the door to nations or regions introducing unilateral arrangements would wreak havoc on existing trade, undermine competitiveness across Europe and drive up costs for those producers affected.”
On the opposite side of the debate, Friends of the Earth claimed it was an “empty offer” as it excluded public concerns about food safety. Greenpeace also argued that the rules “wouldn’t stand up in any court.”
Finally, criticism was even expressed by the US Government. American Trade Representative Michael Froman voiced his disappointment with the new proposal, which he said “appears hard to reconcile with the EU’s international obligations”.
Deadline for direct
Member states last week agreed to a commission proposal extending the deadline for aid applications for 2015 direct payments from May 15 to June 15.
Discussions on this issue started back in March when Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan was quoted as saying that the move was necessary ‘so that farmers do not suffer the consequences of delays on the part of administrations, which are faced with the challenge of the first year of implementation of the new CAP’.
It is being reported that most countries are likely to take up the offer including Belgium (Wallonia), Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Italy, Malta, France, Croatia, Spain, Austria, Poland, Greece, Romania and the Netherlands.
England and Scotland will make use of the delay but Wales and Northern Ireland will stick to the May 15 deadline amid concerns that the move would cause further disruption in the second half of the year.
Biofuels rules signed off
MEPs in Strasbourg formally gave the green light to new biofuels legislation this week.
After lengthy negotiations, parliament agreed to a compromise deal with the council allowing a 7% cap on the volume of crops allowed to be used for biofuels which can count towards the 10% goal for renewable energy in transport.
They also voted in favour of establishing both an EU and national non-binding target for advanced biofuels of 0.5% which includes fuels generated from farm waste and algae.
The controversial reporting of Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) factors also remains a part of the legislation. The new rules will now enter into force over the coming weeks.