13 June 1997

Fischler softens reform

FUTURE prospects for milk quotas received another boost when EU farm commissioner Franz Fischler rejected the need for "radical reform" in the short term.

Speaking at the recent European Dairy Associations general assembly in Brussels, he said there was no need for radical change because there was no imminent danger of a stock build-up.

But he was convinced it was in the EUs long-term interest to stay competitive and remain a major exporter of dairy products to world markets. As such, any reform of the dairy sector would need to bring EU prices closer to those on world markets.

More details of the way reform might go are expected when the "Santer package" is published next month. But given the strength of opposition to removing quotas expressed at the recent informal meeting of farm ministers in Holland, the emphasis is more likely to be on maintaining the status quo until 2005, or price cuts with compensation.n