Agenda item 2
The future cooperation - Declaration
Introductory intervention by Mr. Árni Matthíesen, Minister of Fisheries, Iceland
I first of all wish to thank Kvistgaard Consult for the good work done in connection with the evaluation. It is not easy to evaluate a cooperation which is process oriented and of a policy oriented character, and we think that you have succeeded very well. Iceland is however more positive than the consultants in relation to the work done in follow-up of the Copenhagen Ministerial meeting 3 years ago. We are of the opinion, that during these 3 years, the cooperation has contributed to a strengthening of the understanding between the Nordic and Baltic countries in the fields of agriculture, forestry and food safety. As a result of the cooperation, important networks have been built up which are valuable also in other contexts, formally and informally. It has taken time to build up cooperation within the Consultation Committee, which has been responsible for the follow-up work, but we think that the Committee has functioned well in preparation of this meeting, as we can see from preparation of this declaration and other items on our agenda today. We think that the cooperation has filled an important function as a process, and our experience is that things take time – it takes time to build up a new cooperation, which does not fit into a given framework.
Having said that, we welcome the declaration prepared by the Consultation Committee. We give high priority to a continued cooperation between the Nordic and Baltic states. Such cooperation is in our view even more important in light of an enlarged European Union, and as a non-member of the EU Iceland has a particular interest in its continuation.
The declaration in front of us identifies agriculture, forestry, fisheries and food issues as the areas of focus for the future cooperation. This proposal very well reflects the institutional changes made within the Nordic Council of Ministers two years ago, when the very same sectors were joined under one Ministerial Council. The focus on the four sector areas makes sense also from other points of view. In particular, I wish to draw attention to the proposed declaration on enhanced cooperation on food safety, which we will consider later today.
In the declaration, the future cooperation is proposed to be integrated into the Nordic Council of Ministers, which is asked to find modalities for how the Baltic states can be fitted into the cooperation. In 2004 Iceland will take over chairmanship of the Nordic Council of Ministers. Iceland looks forward to leading the process to integrate the Baltic states into the cooperation, in close cooperation with the secretariat of the Nordic Council of Ministers. Our plan as chair country is to do this in a transparent way, based on full cooperation with the Baltic countries, with the aim to integrate the Baltic states in the work as quickly as possible.
In the declaration, it is proposedthat the Consultation Committee continues its work for another year. We think that this transitional period is necessary to initiate follow-up of this meeting without loss of momentum. We also think that the transitional period is needed to transfer the experiences of the cooperation so far into the new system, and for the Baltic states to familiarize themselves with the cooperation under the Nordic Council of Ministers. According to the plans, Iceland will together with Latvia take over chairmanship of the Consultation Committee for 2004.
Finally Iceland would welcome the participation of Northwest Russia in the future cooperation. Iceland would as chair country in the coming year seek to find suitable solutions for how Northwest Russia could participate in the work, if Russia so wishes.
Introductory intervention on food safety by Lithuania
Dear colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,
Republic of Lithuania welcomes the idea to organize the meeting of ministers of Nordic and Baltic States and Russia and we are proud to participate in this important event.
Lithuania highly supports the initiative to adopt a declaration on enhanced cooperation in order to increase food safety in the Nordic-Baltic region.
Food safety is a top priority concern both in Lithuania and Europe. It is in the interest of Lithuania as well as of the whole Europe to ensure that only safe foodstuffs are supplied to the consumer. Like in other countries, consumers in Lithuania are becoming more sophisticated, and we have to win their confidence, which is impossible to achieve without transparency.
The laws of the Republic of Lithuania provide that the State Food and Veterinary Service, which is competent authority for control of food safety in Lithuania, shall ensure that only safe food products are placed on the market and that food processing establishments comply with the EU requirements. During the last year before accession to the EU it is imperative to complete the adoption of the EU legislation on food safety and further develop the administrative capacity of state institutions, particularly with respect to food control.
Lithuanian authorities implement the basic principles of market supervision, with an emphasis on ensuring food safety and control while establishing and executing a unified food control system following the principle “from stable to table” for products of animal origin and “from farm to fork” – for plant products, creating a favorable environment for free movement of goods and ensuring an effective control of the imported products of animal origin, ensuring continuous improvement of the welfare of animals and protection from contagious diseases.
Lithuania highly welcomes the intention of Nordic-Baltic-Northwest Russian Region to increase food safety in the region and via signing the Tallinn declaration to enhance co-operation between the concerned countries of the region and making the region a stronghold as regards food safety. The identified 4 priority areas are very important for improving food safety and of great concern for the whole Nordic-Baltic-Northwest Russian Region. Better co-operation on the outlined 4 subjects between the countries would substantially facilitate food safety in the region.
Traceability in general is very important for tracing back foodstuffs, which could be dangerous and suspected as unsafe. Since many countries have implemented or are implementing their national traceability systems, it would be good to exchange knowledge for achieving full traceability of food and guaranteeing animal and public health.
As regards zoonoses, particularly the Nordic countries have very good experience and could be a perfect example, how zoonoses control should be improved. Such an experience would be highly appreciated by Lithuania, as well as by other countries.
Dioxin issues are particularly important for all the countries bordering on the Baltic sea, and therefore co-operation and exchange of information by the countries, which are more experienced to the less experienced countries, is desirable.
Lithuania, like all other countries, is working on the establishment of efficient food control systems. In order to ensure efficient food control systems, adequate training of staff and business operators is organized according to the national training program, which is annually adopted by the SFVS. In addition, staff undergoes training in the EU laboratories and institutions in the framework of PHARE and bilateral programs. Training and further improvement of technical knowledge of staff in the establishments is of crucial importance and it would be very useful to organize international training seminars to share the best available knowledge in the field.
In future, of course, other areas may be added to these previously identified if the need arises. I am sure that adoption of the Tallinn Declaration on Increased Food Safety in the Nordic-Baltic Northwest Russian Region would not only improve co-operation between the mentioned countries and improvement of situation in striving to achieve our common goal – safe food to consumers, but would also have political implications, i.e. increase joint influence of Baltic and Nordic countries in international organizations and in the world.'
In conclusion I would like to express our satisfaction at fruitful collaboration of Nordic and Baltic countries and Russia and wish a successful work throughout the meeting.
Mr Juha Korkeaoja, Finland
Minister for Agriculture and Forestry
Tallinn 7 November 2003
Honour Nordic and Baltic Colleaque
Today´s consumers want to eat fresh, tasty and safe food. They are also concerned about the impacts on health, the ethical principles of food production, the composition of foodstuffs, and the effects of nutrients. Food is expected to be of high – and verifiable – guality.
High-guality food production is based on expertise. Consumer satisfaction is best guaranteed by dedicated and gualified staff. The guality of products is based on the guality of work. For all parties operating in the food chain – from farm to fork – guality is on common priority.
In 1997 the Finnish food sector joined forces to improve the guality of products and operations. A guality strategy was created for the food sector to secure high guality in the long term. The guality strategy is based on values common to the whole sector: meeting the customers´needs, economic efficiency, sustainable development, and ethical standards. Finnish guality strategy work is comprehensive, it embraces the entire food sector: the producers, advisory organisations, production input industry, food industry, trade, research, education, management, and consumers. The aim is to build an unbroken guality chain from farm to fork.
Another objective of the guality strategy is transparency and traceability of the food production chain. It means that consumers must have access to information on the origin and stages of production of the goods they buy.
Finland has also prepared the national zoonoses strategy which will be public at the end of this year. Special projects to analyze dioxin, especially in fish, has been finalized at the end of October this year. The results will be published within coming weeks or month. We are also, once again, re-organizing our food control system both at the cenral and local level.
Already at the Nordic-Baltic meeting of Ministers responsible for agriculture and forestry in December 2000 the Ministers in the Copenhagen Declaration agreed to include food safety and food guality as issues of co-operation and exchange of information in the forthcoming period. In order to implement this decission and to further enhance the co-operation in this field it has been developed the Tallinn Declaration on Food Safety.
The Ministerial Declaration, is based on, already before mentioned, four (4) priority areas, namely traceability, zoonoses, dioxin and efficient food control systems.
The proposed co-operation during the three (3) coming years in the area of food safety are
- Traceability: Nordic-Baltic consultation and co-operation concerning requirements for traceability of food in national and international trade, in order to identify criteria that are important to ensure health, environment, quality and fair trade without posing illegitimate obstacles to trade.
- Zoonoses. Nordic-Baltic consultation and co-operation in order to initiate and complete measures necessary to reduce the amount of zoonotic agents in food, and to establish standards and/or guidelines that may legitimate trade regulations at a high level of protection.
- Dioxin. Nordic-Baltic consultation and co-operation concerning measures to reduce the occurrence of dioxin and dioxin like PCBs in foods. This objective is particularly important for the countries bordering on the Baltic sea.
- Efficient food control systems. Nordic-Baltic consultation and co-operation on structuring and implementing in-house control systems, on ensuring the competence of the personnel of control authorites and on ensuring adequate competence of the personnel of food business through regulations and other means.
I thank You for Your interest.
Norwegian Ministery of Agriculture
Agenda item 4, Organic production - declaration
Draft - speaking note on Organic agriculture
Dear fellow ministers,
While recognising that there is more than one agricultural system that has the potential to be sustainable, organic farming can contribute to an economically viable, environmentally sound and socially acceptable agriculture sector. In my opinion, the organic production method in itself as well as transfer of knowledge to conventional farming, justify calling organic production a spear point in making agricultural production in general more sustainable. Organic farming also increases the diversity of the food market, thereby giving the consumers access to more products that can fill their needs and preferences.
Environmental concerns and increased consumer awareness of food production has contributed to the growth in organic farming over the last few years. Within the European Union organic farming represented around 3,3 % of the total utilised agricultural area in 2002. The organic sector at the turn of the century is broadly estimated to be worth USD 26 billion worldwide, and is generally considered the most rapidly growing sector of agriculture. According to The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation, FAO, organic products constituted about 2% of the total food-market in OECD-countries in 2002. FAO predicts that the marked grows with 15-30% each year. This tells me that organic farming will be an increasingly important part of the international food-market in the years to come.
Documents 4/3 - 4/10 describe the status for organic production in the individual Nordic and Baltic states. The documents show that the development of organic farming has reached different levels in the individual Nordic and Baltic countries. National emphasis also differs dependent on the individual parts of the food chain: production, refinement, marketing and sales. However, all countries now see organic farming as an important part of their agricultural policy and as a central area for further development. It is also clear that many of the challenges facing the Nordic and Baltic countries are common, both in regard of developing organic primary production as well as a market for organic products in accordance with consumers demand. This suggests that cooperation based on exchange of experience, information and knowledge and project-based cooperation on specific topics can be favourable for further development of the organic sector in the region. It is also my conviction that closer cooperation between the Nordic and Baltic countries in the area of organic production, can lead to a more effective use of competence, knowledge and economic resources. I therefore hope that all countries can support the proposed declaration on cooperation on development of organic food and agricultural production, presented in document 4/11.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman
Draft speaking note on organic agriculture
Agenda item 4, organic production – declaration
Introductory intervention by Mr Mārtiņš Roze, Minister of Agriculture of Latvia
Draft speaking note on organic agriculture
Dear fellow Ministers,
Organic farming, being the most rapid growing sector of agriculture, has become an essential element of the national economy in the Nordic and Baltic States. As Mr. Lars Sponheim, the Minister of Agriculture of Norway pointed out and as it has been underlined in the documents 4/3 – 4/10, organic farming is developing intensely in each of the Nordic and Baltic States. Though the level reached in the development of organic farming differs from country to country, each country is planning to increase the output of organic production and has set up a strategic goal for the development of organic farming.
Also in Latvia, organic farming is developing rapidly. Currently, areas used in organic production constitute less than 1% of the total area of agricultural land but it is foreseen that in 2006 organic farming will cover already 3% of the total agricultural land area. The output of organic production is increasing. Currently we are preparing the Development Plan for Organic Agriculture for 2003-2006, programming development of production, processing and trade.
Latvia has gained a positive experience while collaborating with the Nordic and Baltic States. This year, in Copenhagen, it is the 10th meeting of institutions controlling organic farming of the Nordic and Baltic States with a view to discuss the most topical issues. We appreciate the fact that Latvia has been participating in these meetings since 2001. Latvia is looking forward to the proposed project “Development of the Nordic-Baltic market for organic food” and the possibility to address with joint forces the development issues of organic farming.
It is more efficient to facilitate the development of organic farming sector by coordinating collaboration, exchanging information and sharing experience in addressing these issues as well as market development, improvement of controls and training system. All this would ensure a more effective use of competence, knowledge and economic resources.
Latvia supports and invites other Nordic and Baltic States to support the Tallinn Declaration on Organic Food and Agriculture Production in Nordic-Baltic Region, presented in the document 4/11.
Thank you for your attention!
Danish Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries
EU and Other International Relations
Point 6. International Issues
Draft speaking note on International issues
Allow me to start with my personal opinion on our enhanced co-operation on international issues. Nordic-Baltic co-operation should in my opinion be a dynamic process, and the co-operation should continually be adapted to international developments, particularly in relation to important international developments in the EU, WTO, OECD, FAO and other UN-agencies and in the international foras where fishery and forestry are at the agenda.
The international activities of our future cooperation should in principle be based on systematic consultations at all relevant levels to provide the Nordic countries as well as the Baltic countries with an opportunity to determine common interests in relation to international developments. But we also have to be realistic. Three of the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland and Sweden) are members of the European Union, and Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania will soon follow while Iceland and Norway are associated with the European Union through the EEA-agreement.
We have to realize, that in some cases there will be a conflict of interests – also between the EU-members.
The discussions of international issues with a Nordic-Baltic dimension should therefore in some cases probably be informal. I do not think any of us for the time being wish to be perceived as a bloc in the EU.
Nevertheless, I believe that we all could benefit if we seek consultation and exchange relevant information focused on issues in which we have common values and interests. The aim should be to establish a platform for initiatives and concerted actions in cases where we wish to exert influence on the relevant agenda.
After this rather long introduction with my views on how we in general could co-operate about international issues, I shall be brief in my presentation of the submitted background-documents. Document 6/2 - prepared by Finland – describes the outcome of several important forestry events: The “Vienna Living Forest Summit” in April, the third session of the United Nations Forum on Forests in May-June this year and the thirty-fourth session of International Tropical Timber Council in May. It is quite clear that the protection and sustainable management of forests really are at the international agenda.
I feel it is relevant also to mention illegal logging. Illegal logging is a serious problem in a number of countries throughout the world. It undermines the work towards sustainable forest management. Therefore, promotion of forest law enforcement and combatment of illegal logging and related trade has been high on the forest policy agenda in recent years, both at global, regional and national scales.
We have focused our attention on this problem in the Nordic Council of Ministers, in Baltic 21, in the Barents region co-operation as well as in the EU. In May this year, the European Commission launched an action plan on forest law enforcement, governance and trade, and in October the European Council of Ministers draw conclusions providing a good platform for the future actions to be undertaken on this important issue.
In document 6/3 my own ministry has highlighted some fishery related issues related to the Baltic Sea: The Cod Recovery Plan adopted by the International Baltic Sea Fishery Commission, the proposal from the EU Commission to use pingers and to reduce the length of drift-nets and the phasing out of their use in the Baltic Sea by 1 January 2007. The paper also briefly describes some of the initiatives regarding the dioxin contamination in the Baltic Sea.
Estonia has in document 6/4 in a very sober way described our common position on the controversial trade issues. Despite the disappointing outcome of Cancun, the Nordic-Baltic countries remain committed to further liberalisation of agricultural trade, further market opening and increased discipline of agricultural support measures.
Finally Estonia in document 6/5 describes the positive co-operation between the Baltic countries and the OECD.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.