3.2.2006   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 28/82


Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on the ‘Proposal for a Council Regulation on the common organisation of the market in hops’

(COM (2005) 386 final — 2005/0162 (CNS))

(2006/C 28/16)

On 21 September 2005 the Council decided to consult the European Economic and Social Committee, under Article 36 and the second and third paragraphs of Article 37, of the Treaty establishing the European Community, on the abovementioned proposal.

On 27 September 2005, the Committee Bureau instructed the Section for Agriculture, Rural Development and the Environment to prepare the Committee's work on the subject.

In view of the urgency of the work, the European Economic and Social Committee appointed Mr Kienle as rapporteur-general at its 421st plenary session, held on 26 and 27 October 2005 (meeting of 27 October 2005), and adopted the following opinion with 63 votes in favour, and 3 abstentions.

1.   Overview of the EESC's position

1.1

The EESC supports the European Commission's proposal to replace the various regulations on the common organisation of the market in hops with a single new regulation.

2.   Comments

2.1

Council Regulation (EEC) No 1696/71 of 26 July 1971 on the common organisation of the market in hops has undergone many extensive changes since it was introduced. It helps to make Community rules clearer and more accessible if regulations that are no longer relevant are repealed and replaced by a new regulation based on a consolidated version of the old regulations.

2.2

Lately, the EESC has issued several opinions on the organisation of the hops market (1). In its most recent opinion on this matter, of 26 February 2004, the Committee was of the view that it was ‘consistent’ and made ‘sense’ following the CAP reform (Luxembourg decisions) of 2003 for direct payments for hops to also be integrated into the general regulation for direct payments.

2.3

The EESC would also like to point out in this opinion that hops (humulus lupulus) are an essential raw material in beer production and are produced in eight EU Member States mainly by small specialised family farms with an average of less than eight hectares. European hop producers have managed to consolidate their position as world market leaders. The common organisation of the market in hops has successfully dealt with the major market adjustments of recent years. It has accepted and promoted the comprehensive system of quality control and contracts which is indispensable for successful production and marketing. The system is the responsibility of producer groups, which are the ‘heart and soul’ of the organisation of the market in hops. These principles should be retained in the new organisation of the market as well.

2.4

The EESC would like to point out that expenditure on the hop sector has remained stable for years at around EUR 13 million.

Brussels, 27 October 2005

The President

of the European Economic and Social Committee

Anne-Marie SIGMUND


(1)  OJ C 110, 30.4.2004, pp. 116-124.

OJ C 80, 30.3.2004, p. 46.

OJ C 193, 10.7.2001, pp. 38-39.