30 March 1999
CAP reforms undermine WTO position

THE European Commission (EC) has admitted that the diluted reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will weaken the negotiating position of the European Union (EU) on the liberalisation of world trade.

An unidentified EC spokesman concedes in the Financial Times that the EUs position at World Trade Organisation talks next year will not be as strong as it would have been had the original reforms proposed for the CAP been approved.

The Commission had proposed reforms, centring on price cuts in cereals, beef and milk, with the aim of preparing the union for the WTO talks.

But a meeting last week, government heads decided to scale down price cuts for cereals agreed earlier by farm ministers and to delay a reform of the dairy regime.

The Financial Times suggests there will be further pressure from the EUs trade partners in the WTO for farm aid changes in two to three years time.