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French fondness for farm subsidies falls afoul of fundamental reform front

brussels bureau

French fondness for farm subsidies falls afoul of fundamental reform front


A health check of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is being decided this week. Disagreements over how far to go in decoupling subsidies from production have brought current EU president France in for criticism during debate in the European Parliament. This Wednesday its members will vote on how they want to see the CAP shaped until 2013.

French Agriculture Minister Michel Barnier spoke to the assembly saying: “As always, finding a compromise is not easy, since a lot of substantial points are still in suspense… the divisive subjects.” On Thursday, all of Europe’s agriculture ministers will take the parliament’s opinion into account before they clinch a 27-way deal. France is among the countries that want CAP payments left hitched to production in ‘sensitive’ areas, say to allow for tricky geography.

The rules leave space for EU members to use a portion of farm aid for specific schemes. But the UK wants tight rules to prevent distorting competition.

Roger Waite edits the leading agricultural newsletter Agra Facts: “I think the key point is: the more market orientation we have in policy, the more volatility we are going to see in prices, and as a result, yes there is a role the public funding has there in actually supporting farm revenues.”

The keenest reformers are pushing for more CAP money to got towards rural development. Accepting the vast business implication is not to dismiss the social dimension… According to Brussels’ calculations, more than 56 percent of people in the EU live in rural areas.

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brussels bureau