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It provides a legally binding global framework for the sustainable conservation of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.
The Council adopted a Decision concluding the Protocol between the Community and the Republic of Malta to associate Malta to the Fifth European Community Framework Programme for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration (1998-2002) (The Council adopted a Decision amending the negotiating directives on the establishment of an international framework for the creation of a legal entity for the construction and operation of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor.
It stressed that the mid-term review should not call into question the principles and mechanisms agreed on at the Berlin Summit and that several agricultural sectors (cereals, fruit and vegetables, poultry, etc.), needed more attention paid to their needs through an adaptation of Community legislation which also took account of the international environment.
The French delegation drew the Council and Commission's attention to the United States new Agriculture Act with a view to a discussion within the Council given the range of possible implications both as regards the world agricultural economy and from the angle of the new WTO negotiations and the mid-term review of Agenda 2000.
These undertakings must be translated into objectives, activities and specific measures.
Furthermore, in order to verify that the relevant programmes or policies have produced the expected results with regard to equality and quality of life for women and men in the rural environment, it is necessary to use the criteria established for the evaluation of rural development measures in all the regions of the EU. Urges Governments, in their rural development policies, to recognise the role of women in order to improve women's standard of living, ensure employment and basic services and boost rural society itself. Encourages Member States, particularly those which do not do so, to make a systematic diagnosis and prior analysis of development policies, legislation, strategies and projects before they are adopted in order to ensure that they do not discriminate against women and that they contribute as far as possible to promote gender equality.
It noted the increased use made of first-pillar instruments (direct aids to production, reference prices, compensatory payments) by the United States and wondered what the likely effects of this Act would be on world market prices and how far it was compatible with the multilateral undertakings entered into by United States.
Commissioner FISCHLER said the Commission was anxious to see as soon as possible an initial assessment of the impact of this Act on the world agricultural market so that the effects could be taken into account in the mid-term review proposals, which should therefore be submitted to the Council in July.
The Council took note of the state of play on the "alcohol" issue, as described by the Presidency.
It instructed the Special Committee on Agriculture to continue its discussions, including on the question of national aid, so that it could bring the matter to a conclusion at its next June meeting in the light of the European Parliament's Opinion, due shortly.
The Council was pleased to note that the Special Committee on Agriculture had reported progress on the Commission proposal and asked it to press on so that the matter could be brought to a conclusion when the European Parliament's Opinion was available.
The amendments allow the Commission to transmit to the other Parties offers of potential candidates for sites proposed by Member States for the ITER construction and to negotiate financing and cost-sharing arrangements in conjunction with site offers.
Framework agreement with the European Space Agency The Council approved the negotiating directives and an ad hoc procedure with a view to the conclusion of a framework agreement between the Community and the European Space Agency (ESA).