Fifty years for the Special Committee on Agriculture
On 9 September 2010, the Special Committee on Agriculture (SCA) of the Council celebrated its 50th anniversary. To mark the occasion the working session was preceded by a lunch and followed by a reception and a concert. Speaking at the lunch, the current chairman of the SCA, Mr Herman Hooyberghs, highlighted the important role of the SCA in the past, present and future for the functioning of the common agricultural policy (CAP). Guest of honour at the lunch was Commissioner in charge of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Ciolos i, a former member of the SCA.
The SCA is the body which prepares the work of the Agriculture Council, notably for all aspects concerning the common market organisation, agricultural structures and rural development. The SCA has played a central part in the original design and periodic reform of the CAP. The CAP remains one of the cornerstones of European construction. It accounts for a significant share of total EU expenditure, represents a large part of the total body of EU law, and has a direct impact on the lives of many millions of EU citizens.
The SCA usually meets weekly on Mondays. Member States are represented in this committee by senior officials responsible for agricultural policy either in their respective permanent representations or in their capitals. As with Council meetings, the European Commission participates in all SCA meetings. The General Secretariat of the Council assists the Committee and its specialised working parties in their tasks.
In addition to CSA, the Committee for Permanent Representatives (COREPER i) prepares the Agriculture Council’s work when financial issues or technical measures on veterinary, phytosanitary of food legislation have to be discussed. Unlike the COREPER whose origin lies in the EEC Treaty from 1957, the SCA was set up by a Council Decision of 12 May 1960 on the acceleration of the rate of attainment of the Treaty with particular reference to the CAP. The then six Member States considered it necessary for this task to be entrusted to a specialised body.
The first SCA meeting was held on 9 September 1960. Over the years, the committee’s work grew to reflect the increasing importance of the CAP. In order to cope with the task of preparing the Council’s proceedings, the SCA set up working parties for various specific aspects.
The SCA has also proved, for many of its members, a rewarding preparation for greater responsibility at national and European level, with some of its members subsequently becoming ministers for Agriculture, namely Mr Michel Cointat (France) in the seventies, Mr Gerrit Braks (the Netherlands) in the eighties, Mr Kalevi Hemilä (Finland) and Mr Walter Luchetti (Italy) in the nineties. Mr Dacian Ciolos, SCA delegate from 2005 to 2007, became minister for Agriculture in Romania and, in 2010, Commissioner in charge of Agriculture and Agricultural Development.