The EU: Agriculture, fisheries and food

Issues relating to agriculture, fisheries and food fall within the responsibility of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council. Sweden's objective in the area is to promote sustainable fisheries, good animal welfare and animal health, a market-oriented and competitive agricultural sector, and access to safe and healthy food.

EU agricultural policy

The EU's Common Agricultural Policy is a fully harmonised policy area resting on two pillars: the first pillar (direct payments and the Common Organisation of the Markets) and the second pillar (support for the environment and rural areas).

More about agricultural policy on the European Commission website

In 2013 the EU’s agriculture ministers and the European Parliament agreed on a reform of the EU’s agricultural policy for the period 2014–2020. The reform covers the four regulations that concern direct payments to farmers (farm payments), support for rural development and the environment (Rural Development Programme), measures to stabilise the market and rules for how these areas are to be financed and managed.

EU fisheries policy

The EU Common Fisheries Policy is a fully developed EU policy.  In 2013 the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament reached an agreement on what the Common Fisheries Policy should contain. The new Common Fisheries Policy is to ensure that fisheries and activities in the area of aquaculture are sustainable in the long term and compatible with the EU’s environmental law. It has three overarching objectives:

Sustainable fish stocks by 2020

Fish stocks must be restored and conserved by 2020: this is to apply to all fish stocks.

Ban on discards

Unwanted by-catches must be avoided as far as possible by making it obligatory for fishing vessels to land all fish caught. The regulatory framework will be introduced in stages and will take into account the best available scientific advice. Any unwanted by-catches are to be used in the best way possible without creating a market for these products.

Adapting fishing fleets to fish stocks

The EU Member States are to adapt the capacity of their fishing vessels to the fishing opportunities available. The aim is to ensure economically viable fleets that do not overexploit fish stocks.

EU policy for food and animals

The EU has a comprehensive regulatory framework for animals and food. Under the treaty, the EU and its Member States are obliged to take into account the welfare of animals. Legislation on animal health is aimed at facilitating trade in animals and animal products in the EU without spreading disease, and to prevent infections passing from animals to humans.

Total harmonisation in the food sector in the EU

A large part of the food sector in the EU has been fully harmonised. This means that it is not permitted for individual Member States to have stricter or more liberal provisions.

Work in the EU regarding the food sector includes the creation of new laws and a modernisation of the present regulatory framework. The basis of all food legislation in the EU is protecting consumer health, diversity in choice and facilitating trade by having common rules in all Member States. At EU level there is a superior regulation on general principles and demands for food legislation and procedures in issues concerning food safety.