Under the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations, the European Community/Union has negotiated various agreements, several of which concern agriculture, in particular the Agreement on Agriculture [see sections 23.4 and 23.5]. This Agreement laid down a six-year timetable for the extension of access to the European market for agricultural products from third countries on the one hand and the gradual reduction in support granted by the EU on exports of agricultural products on the other hand.
By converting all the measures restricting imports of agricultural products into customs duties (tarification) and by prohibiting the application of such measures in the future, the Agreement required the abolition of variable import levies and of the other measures and import charges previously provided for under the common market organizations. In fact, the rates of customs duty applicable to agricultural products in accordance with the Agreement were fixed in the Common Customs Tariff [see section 5.2.1]. However, in order to maintain a minimum level of protection against the adverse effects on the market as a result of tarification, the Agreement permits the application of additional customs duties under precisely defined conditions and provides for a series of tariff quotas, the opening and administering of which were assigned to the Commission, using the ''management committee procedure'' [see section 21.3.2].
For certain product groups such as cereals, rice, wine and fruit and vegetables, the introduction of supplementary or other trade mechanisms that do not involve the collection of fixed customs duties required the adoption of rules providing for derogations in the basis regulations. Therefore, a Regulation sets up the adjustments and transitional arrangements required in the agriculture sector in order to implement the agreements concluded during the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations [Regulation 3290/94].
Certain goods not falling within Annex I of the Treaty are obtained using agricultural products subject to the common agricultural policy. The charges applied to imports of such goods should, on the one hand, cover the difference between the world market prices and the prices on the European market for the agricultural products used in their production and, on the other hand, ensure the protection of the processing industry concerned. Therefore, a regulation lays down the trade arrangements applicable to certain goods resulting from the processing of agricultural products [Regulation 1216/2009].
The across-the-board tariff concessions which result from multilateral trade negotiations, such as those of the GATT and now the WTO, are only part of the commitments weighing upon the EU's agricultural relationships. There are in addition preferential bilateral agreements with the ACP countries [see section 24.2.] and the majority of Mediterranean countries [see section 25.5], in the form of association agreements or cooperation agreements, which provide for concessions in the agricultural sector [see also section 5.2.2]. In addition, tariff reductions are granted by the EU under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) to almost all the developing countries, notably in the framework of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and in the framework of the Europe Agreements with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe [see section 25.2].
Aligning European prices with those on the world market as a result of the 1999 CAP reform, should make it possible to export without subsidies, and therefore without quantitative ceilings. As the second-largest agricultural exporter and by far the largest processed food exporter, the EU certainly takes a keen interest in the smooth functioning of world trade and in fair international competition in agricultural trade. It calls, in particular, for all export credits to be subject to compliance with agreed trade rules, as was already agreed in principle in the Uruguay Round. The EU seeks, however, to ensure that in the next round of negotiations greater attention is paid to the justified interests of consumers and that the WTO is not used as a pretext for placing products on the market where there are legitimate concerns about their safety. It also maintains that its new CAP addresses important non-trade issues that cannot be negotiated at world level, in particular the need to strengthen the multifunctional role of agriculture as a means of ensuring the vitality of rural areas, and animal and environmental protection [see sections 12.1.1 and 16.4.1].