15 January 1999
Breakthrough on farm subsidies

POLICY shifts by Germany and Spain appear to have paved the way for far-reaching reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Germany had formerly been an opponent of change, but this week said it would agree to increases in milk production quotas as well as cuts in beef prices.

Spain, too, had previously taken a position firmly in support of the status quo, but has now agreed to more radical reform of the milk and beef regimes.

The policy switches of both European Union members came at the first meeting of a “high level” group of national representatives formed to negotiate change.

Guy Legras, the Commissions farms director-general, told the group the Commission would not soften its position on proposals for cuts in guaranteed prices.

The Commission has suggested cuts of 30% for beef, 20% for cereals and 15% for milk.

Belgium and Finland also appeared willing to compromise previously hardline positions but France remains opposed to any changes.