01 March 1999
Farm reform — France calls for time out

By FWi staff

FRANCE has called for a break in negotiations on reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) so it can sort out its differences with Germany.

Agriculture ministers from the 15 European Union (EU) member states ministers are set to resume talks in Brussels tomorrow (Tuesday).

But French resistance to relinquishing its position as the biggest beneficiary of European farm subsidies remains a major obstacle to CAP reform.

The intransigence of the French government has been bolstered by the powerful French farmers lobby, which fears that CAP will undermine farm incomes.

Jean Glavany, the French agriculture minister, has now asked for talks to be suspended while he tries to reach a compromise with Germany.

Germany contributes more money to the CAP than its farmers receive in subsidies, and is pushing for France to accept radical CAP reform.

Any delay this week would make it harder for Germany to reform EU finances before its presidency finishes at the end of June.

But France is reluctant to agree a deal on this delicate political subject before the European parliamentary elections which are also in June.

This weeks negotiations follow a four-day session which broke up last week without agreement.