23 September 1997
EU ministers split over rural future

By Amanda Cheesley in Brussels

SPLITS showed immediately as EU farm ministers began talks yesterday on rural development policy (RDP) under the “Agenda 2000” Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform proposals.

Although most ministers backed the need for RDP to aid diversification and maintain the environment, only the UK and Sweden generally favoured the Commissions approach.

The EU Commission plans to shift around £1.4 billion of spending earmarked for rural development to the agricultural budget. This could then be used for CAP market support.

Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium were against the plans, fearing it might mean less funding overall for market support measures, while Italy worried that RDP might suffer.

Other member states have yet to decide their positions.

Talks will continue ahead of a meeting of heads of state, intended to endorse the Commissions CAP 2000 plans, in December.

  • Farm ministers are due to review the BSE situation today.