Last week the member countries of the International Olive Council congregated in Madrid for their 24th extraordinary session. During discussions they agreed on the draft text which will serve as the basis for the negotiation of a successor agreement to the current 2005 Agreement at the United Nations conference scheduled to take place at UNCTAD headquarters in Geneva from 5 to 9 October 2015.
One of the most important developments in the draft text is the weight now given to consumer countries through the application of a balanced formula for calculating Members’ participation shares in the IOC budget in which production, exports and imports are assigned equal parts.
Another major change is the introduction of a new decision-making process for matters concerning the IOC’s international trade standard. In the event of disagreement, this process incorporates more stages for trying to work out a consensus. If discrepancies persist, a vote will be taken and the decision will be adopted unless at least three Members accounting for more than 10% of voting rights are opposed.
The spirit of harmony that has emerged from the negotiations chaired by the European Union since 1 May 2015 is a signal that the International Olive Council has crossed another milestone and is ready to take up new challenges. The next Agreement, which confirms the mission of the IOC, is expected to enter into force on 1 January 2017 and will remain operational until 31 December 2026.
The meeting on the future of the IOC was followed by the 24th extraordinary session of the Council of Members on 16–19 June. As usual, the various specialist committees met to discuss measures for adoption by Members. The most important decisions that emerged from the Economic Committee were to defer publishing the results of the production costs study to enable a further data check, to request the validation of the methodology for the value chain study in November before carrying on with scheduled activities and to hold the May 2016 meeting of the IOC Advisory Committee on Olive Oil and Table Olives in Iran. The meeting will coincide with a regional seminar planned in the same country on a topic of relevance to industry which will be proposed at the November session.
As a result of the proposals put forward by the Promotion Committee to the Council of Members, it was decided to issue a third call for grant applications for promotional activities scheduled between 15 September 2015 and 31 March 2016. This new call will be published at the beginning of July.
The members of the Technical Committee also put forward proposals to the Council of Members, which agreed to leave the ethyl ester limit at 35 mg/kg for the 2015/16 crop year pending reconsideration of this matter by the Council of Members in June 2016, to hold a meeting this autumn of a task force entrusted with organising an international IOC seminar on the bacterial pest Xylella fastidiosa in 2016 and to draw up a set of recommendations for the organisers of quality competitions which will be presented to the Council of Members in November.