31 March 2000

EU cash right away

FARMERS in central and eastern Europe may be entitled to direct income aid the day they join the EU.

Addressing the "Friends of Europe" seminar in Brussels this week, EU farm commissioner, Franz Fischler, said that, without direct payments, it would be impossible to ask the acceding countries to apply the CAPs supply control instruments such as set-aside or beef ceilings. "Without these, serious production surpluses could result."

Joining countries would be subject to a transition period, he said, during which farmers could receive aid, partly as direct payments and partly as rural development funding.

This is the first time Dr Fischler has suggested such a "tandem" approach. &#42