The EU Council of Ministers is the principal decision-making body. It consists of a national representative from each member state, at Ministerial level, whose actions bind his government. In principle, the members of the Council are the national Ministers of Foreign Affairs but, when the Council discusses sectoral issues, the Council consists of the competent ministers or their deputies. In other words, the Council is an institutional body with nine formations, in accordance to the policy area under discussion.
The Council of Ministers for Agriculture and Fisheries is one of those nine formations, which convenes formally eleven times per year (once per month except August) and two times informally, once every six months, in the home country of the member state exercising its Presidency. For special reasons, it is possible to convene ad hoc meetings of the Council or even joint meetings (Jumbo Council), for example, a Jumbo Council for Agriculture and Trade.
In principle, the legal basis of the decisions taken by the Farm Council, are articles 32-38 of the Treaty. The decisions are reached with a qualified majority, following a proposal from the European Commission and in consultation with the European Parliament, which renders a relative opinion.
Lately, many agricultural issues are closely related to the functioning of the internal market. For these issues, the Parliament’s involvement has been enhanced via the co-decision process. Among these issues one could mention veterinary & phytosanitary issues, feedstuff, etc.
When there is no proposal on behalf of the Commission, decision making requires unanimity.
At the Council’s meetings, the Commission is represented by the competent Commissioner.
The Ministers’ Council is being assisted by the General Secretariat, which provides the competent staff for facilitating the Council’s work.
The President of the Council is the representative of the member state that enacts the Presidency for a period of six months.
All issues reaching the Council level for discussion or approval have been discussed first at a technical level in various Working Groups, the Special Committee for Agriculture (SCA) or the COREPER, depending on their content.
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