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Minister Coughlan visits Slovenian Minister in advance of EU Presidency

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mary Coughlan TD, today met with her Slovenian counterpart, Mr Iztok Jarc in Ljubljana. Slovenia will assume the Presidency of the EU for the first six months of 2008, and the main purpose of the meeting was to hear Slovenia's plans and priorities for its six-month tenure and to convey to Minister Jarc the Irish position on matters of particular interest. Slovenia is the first of the new Member States to assume the Presidency of the EU and Minister Coughlan shared with Minister Jarc Ireland's experience of the EU Presidency in previous years.

The Ministers discussed a wide range of topics including the upcoming CAP Health Check and the ongoing WTO negotiations. Both of these topics are expected to predominate the Council agenda for the first half of 2008. The Ministers also discussed the Irish experience of generic promotion of food and the current proposals for reform of the EU wine sector.

Speaking after the meeting, Minister Coughlan said: "We had a very useful exchange of views on a wide range of issues. We share a common understanding concerning many aspects of the Health Check. Both of us believe that the Health Check should focus on simplification and not further reform. We would also be cautious about any proposals to suppress market management measures. As regards the ongoing WTO negotiations also, our views would be broadly similar. We believe that a final deal must not be concluded at the expense of EU agriculture."

In conclusion Minister Coughlan said that Slovenia will be a very influential player in the EU during its Presidency and that the Council of Agriculture Ministers will be in very competent hands under the leadership of Minister Jarc.

28 November, 2007

Date Released: 28 November 2007