24 November 1995

Further CAP reforms gradual

By Stephen Howe

FURTHER CAP reform will be gradual and concentrate on simplification of the present support arrangements for cereals, milk, beef and sheep.

Speaking in Brussels this week, EU farm commissioner Franz Fischler said he was more concerned about the unreformed sectors of the CAP. Those included vegetables, fruit, wine, olive oil and tobacco. "They represent one-third of EU crop output, and EU support expenditure has exploded," he said.

Longer term, there were two extreme views about CAP reform, he said. The present system could be kept unchanged or it could be dismantled.

"Neither is realistic. The CAP needs to be developed continuously. But we must go further with a rural development policy. Farmers are in a minority and if we are interested in developing the countryside we must create non-agricultural employment and provide a better and modern infrastructure," said Mr Fischler.

The CAP should not come under great pressure for five years, by which time the impact of EU enlargement and the next World Trade Organisation round should be felt.

"We are currently preparing a strategy paper which will look at the impact of CAP enlargement. It will be published next week and should be presented to heads of state at the Madrid Summit on Dec 15," said Mr Fischler.

Contents of the paper have already been leaked. The additional cost to the farm budget to accommodate, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary Romania and the Baltic states was said to be about £13bn. That would mean a total budget of £108bn. &#42