12 July 2002

…but Fischler faces tough fight

FRANZ Fischler will have to overcome a mountain of opposition if his mid-term review ideas are to have any chance of becoming law next spring.

According to EU farmers group, COPA, the review goes way beyond what the commission was asked to produce, and it accuses the commissioner of undermining the EU in the ongoing world trade talks.

"The commissions negotiating tactics are beyond belief," it claimed. "Agenda 2000 has already led to the EU making far more concessions to its trading partners than called for by present WTO commitments. It is now proposing to make yet further concessions as the negotiations are reaching a critical stage."

This was happening at a time when the US had introduced a new multi-billion $ Farm Bill for its farmers.

Euro-MPs were also less than impressed with Dr Fischlers package in Brussels this week. Lutz Goepel of the right wing European Peoples Party said the idea of capping aids at k300,000 (£193,500) a unit was untenable, and would be circumvented by people dividing up their farms.

According to Irish Farmers Association president, John Dillon, it was "a breach of faith" by the commission. He predicted a k300m (£193m) annual loss to the Irish farm sector due to modulation and shifts in the traditional forms of beef support. Cross compliance would also bring with it new costs and more red tape. &#42

Etheir first say on the commissions communication when they meet in Brussels next week. France and Ireland have already voiced their opposition to large swathes of the report, with others expected to join them in resisting reform.