29 March 2000
Fischler backs aid for E Europe

EAST European farmers seem certain to receive direct payments the day their countries join the European Union, according to the Financial Times.

The paper makes the conclusion following a warning from European farm commissioner Franz Fischler that denying aid could lead to new food mountains.

Dr Fischler told listeners in Brussels that without direct payments it would be impossible to force East European farmers to set aside land from production.

The FT says the speech is the best hope yet of early financial gain for agricultural communities in the 12 countries negotiating for EU membership.

“Until recently the EU has argued they should be denied direct payments since most of them have not been, and will not be, subjected to price cuts.”

The paper says Dr Fischlers views do not bind his fellow commissioners but he is likely to have a big influence on their thinking.