Pushing ahead with more intensive talks on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy post-2013 and laying the ground for a likely deal under the Irish Presidency in the first half of 2013 will be the top priorities of Danish Agriculture Minister Mette Gjerskov, incoming chair of the Agriculture Council. Denmark will attempt to whittle down the areas of contention among ministers on the CAP proposals, before handing over to the Cypriot Presidency to iron out the major differences still lingering at the end of next year.

Appointed to the role at the beginning of October, Gjerskov has made clear that the new Social Democrat government will push for the CAP to become more market-oriented and less bureaucratic. In recent rounds of CAP talks, she has insisted on the need to simplify the Commission's CAP plans, particularly with regard to proposals for capping the level of receipts for the largest farms and new environment requirements. Denmark has long supported better targeted farm subsidies and the shift of funds to support farm innovation projects. These could include the development of biogas plants and other schemes to make farming more climate-friendly, the Presidency says. The Danes will also strive for technological development as a means to improve the competitiveness of European agriculture.

Elsewhere, securing a deal on the Commission's quality package' - which includes proposals to improve the regulation of the EU's protected speciality foodstuffs - will be a major priority of the Presidency. Informal three-way talks between the European Parliament and Council are currently ongoing, before MEPs take their...

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