15 March 1999
Britain calls for more subsidy cuts

By FWi staff

BRITAIN will demand fresh cuts in farm spending today (Monday), despite last weeks apparent agreement on reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

European finance ministers will hear criticism from the biggest states of the European Union (EU) about a £4 billion overrun in the farm budget.

Chancellor Gordon Brown will argue that there is little chance of an accord on overall European Union expenditure unless the CAP spending is reduced

Unhappiness over CAP reform emerged at a session of EU foreign ministers this weekend near Wiesbaden, Germany.

Robin Cook, the foreign secretary, said the EU was only half-way to a farm deal because agriculture ministers had failed to trim the cost of the CAP.

Joshka Fischer, Germanys foreign minister, said the European Commission would propose cutting the total cost of the farm package in the seven years from 2000 to 2006 from Euro289.3bn (£194bn) to E283bn.

The lower figure represents a stabilisation of farm outlays around the annual level of E40.5bn, demanded by EU heads of government last month.

Mr Fischer and Jacques Santer, Commission president, said the savings could come from direct aid to farmers.

EU foreign ministers meet for a second weekend at the end of this week in a bid to narrow differences over the Agenda 2000 negotiations on EU reform.