Screening meeting with the European Union on Chapter 11 – Agriculture and rural development – was concluded in Brussels 27 January. At the meeting, which was the latter one of two, experts from Iceland and the EU compared the Icelandic legislation with the EU legislation falling under the Chapter. The Icelandic team was headed with Mr. Sigurgeir Thorgeirsson, chairman of the negotiation team.
The EEA Agreement does not cover agriculture and rural development and therefore the whole Chapter is subject to negotiations. The common agriculture policy (CAP) consists of a common market for agricultural products where no customs duties or quantitative restrictions or equivalent measures are applied in trade with agricultural products between the member states. To safeguard agriculture and to level farmers' competitive position, the EU has common support system which is divided into direct payments to farmers, paid from the EU budget, and rural development support measures, co financed by the EU and the individual member state.
At the screening meetings the Icelandic legislation and the EU legislation were compared. Particular emphasis was placed on the special conditions and characteristics of Icelandic agriculture and its importance for food safety, sustainability and rural development. To meet the needs of Icelandic agriculture it will be necessary to find specific solutions in the upcoming negotiations with the European Union.
At the screening meetings, Iceland brought special attention to:
- The country's northern location and natural distinctiveness, e.g. difficult conditions for agriculture and the fact that Iceland is very sparsely populated
- It‘s simple and effective administration and flexibility upon implementation
- Support structure, especially with respect to direct payments, taking into account the specificities in Iceland and the inherent difficult competitive position.
- The possibility of the Treasury to grant additional support to Icelandic agriculture.
- The importance of the protection Icelandic agriculture receives in the form of tariffs
- The operational environment of dairy farmers and dairies.
- The protection of domestic livestock species and its unique situation with respect to animal deceases
- The marking of livestock and that such marking take account of the Icelandic situation
The European Union acquis on agriculture and rural development is quite extensive. The negotiation team has prepared four reports, accompanied with a general introduction, which contain the main issues on which Iceland will place particular emphasis.