|09BERLIN195||2009-02-17 12:19:00||UNCLASSIFIED||Embassy Berlin|
1. Summary: The Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer
Protection (BMELV) will represent Germany at the upcoming meeting in
Mexico City of the Group of the Friends of the Co-Chairs Concerning
Liability and Redress. BMELV will be represented by Wolfgang
Koehler and Dr. Jan-Erik Buchardi, both from the biotech office.
2. Germany will not have a separate agenda for Mexico. They will
follow the EU approach, which was coordinated at an expert meeting
in Prague on February 5, 2009. Without going into detail, BMELV
described the EU position or approach as acting as a mediator.
BMELV said that it intends to assist in the process of finding a
compromise between the extreme positions of Malaysia on the one side
and New Zealand, Canada, and the US on the other side.
3. Definition of Damage: Germany reports that the EU wants to
limit the applicability of damage to biodiversity as laid down in
the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD). However, if the damage can be
directly linked to the cause, the EU is prepared to open up that
definition to other areas.
4. Definition of the Operator: Germany indicates that the EU
agrees with the US position to limit it to the entity in control of
the living modified organism (LMO) at the time the activity causing
the damage occurs.
5. Standard of Liability: Germany feels that the civil law system
that exists in Germany and other EU countries is sufficient and that
definitions for liability and redress should be non-binding. This
also applies to financial security. German officials can support
terminology such as "parties may ..." for use in connection with
financial security. In this context, German officials referred to
the controversial discussions about a national German liability fund
for biotech crops, which were inconclusive.
6. Binding vs. Non-Binding: German officials state that the civil
law section of the intended agreement should be non-binding.
Germany supports binding commitments only where those would be
already covered by existing EU regulations and would require no
legislative changes. This is currently only foreseen in the
administrative portions of the document.
7. Comment: Germany sees itself as a bridge builder. "For the
sake of peace" (Koehler's terminology), Germany would be willing to
compromise "here and there". As in past discussions, Germany wants
these discussions to succeed, even if it means making compromises
that might not necessarily be in alignment with German or EU overall
interests. End Comment.