Ljubljana/Brussels – Agriculture Minister Jože Podgoršek discussed Slovenia’s EU presidency priorities concerning food safety, and animals and plants with European Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides via videoconference on Tuesday. The minister said Slovenia would devote utmost attention to the safety of consumers, and food traceability.
Slovenia will pay special attention to origin labelling and efficient inspection, he asserted. Given the changed expectations of consumers regarding labelling the origin of food, the country will also continue with efforts for changing labelling practices for honey mixtures, he said.
In trade agreements with third countries that concern agriculture, the minister believes the high EU standards need to be protected, especially in veterinary medicine. He highlighted phytosanitary and sanitary standards and legislation dealing with genetically modified organisms and the protection of animal welfare.
In the face of a recent study by the European Commission on the new genomic techniques that has upset environmentalists, Slovenia believes a unified EU regulation of products obtained through the new genomic techniques would be required, as this is a sensitive issue, the Agriculture Ministry said.
During its presidency of the Council of the EU, Slovenia will also chair the debate on the legislation on the protection of animals. A report by the European Parliament’s investigative committee on the protection of animals during transport is expected at the end of the year.
Podgoršek said an important milestone in animal protection had been reached this April when the new rules, which were the result of long-term efforts by the Commission and EU countries, entered into force.
The six-month transitional period for the new rules will expire during Slovenia’s EU presidency.
Slovenia also expects more cross-border cooperation in the fight against the spreading of disease, for example the African pig plague.
During Slovenia’s presidency, a leading topic for debate at sessions of the task force of heads of veterinary services will be digitalisation, where the possibilities are being studied for the use of data that European veterinary services collect daily to boost transparency in food safety, and the health and well-being of animals.
Slovenia will also continue the debates on topics related to the preparedness for dangerous diseases and pests, and topical issues related to plants’ health.
Another priority of Slovenia will be to coordinate and represent the EU’s views in debates on the development of global and regional standards in this field.
Slovenia expects no priority legislation to be passed on phytopharmaceuticals during its presidency but the country will take part in the third conference on the directive on sustainable use of pesticides, which will be hosted by the Commission, the Agriculture Ministry said.