Agriculture ministers have agreed on the biggest re-vamp of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy for five years, which will see subsidies for large farms diverted into countryside preservation schemes.
They haggled through the night, ironing out disagreements, most notably voiced by France, Germany and Italy. The revisions will take effect next year, and will run until 2013.
The French agriculture minister, chairing the EU council meeting, said: “We’ve worked for the last year within a very precise legal and financial framework, and in an international context which is undergoing major change. It’s a mid-term meeting which was set in 2003, and now, here we are in the middle of the 2007 to 2013 period, to evaluate and adapt the Common Agricultural Policy.”
It is the big landowners who will see the most sheared off their subsidy incomes. The reforms also increase milk quotas by one per cent a year, before they expire in 2015. The agreement also extends the changes introduced in 2003, aimed at discouraging the over-production responsible for the EU’s infamous grain-mountains and wine-lakes.