28 July 1995

Hogg spells out UK plans for radical reform of the CAP

By Peter Bullen

Political correspondent

BRITAINs bid to reform the CAP was launched by farm minister, Douglas Hogg, on Wednesday.

He endorsed plans for what he called "radical" reform drawn up by his predecessors CAP think-tank. Mr Hogg said he was sending copies of the report to all his fellow EU farm ministers and he hoped to discuss it with agricultural commissioner, Franz Fischler.

The UK is hoping to spark off a serious debate on CAP reform and Mr Hogg said the report was a timely and important contribution. But he admitted it was not a detailed blueprint. Timetables, costs and detailed policies will all hinge on winning the agreement of other member states.

Although described as radical, the reform proposals are not new. The gist has appeared before (News, Apr 28). The group argues that over the next 10 years the CAP will become unworkable and too costly due to further GATT liberalisation and the enlargement of the EU with central and eastern European countries.

It proposes a gradual reduction of production-linked support and a corresponding removal of quotas, set-aside and similar controls.

Producers would move closer to world market prices, which should rise. Farmers should not be given long-term compensation for support changes or for losing "assets" like milk quota.

But the group recognises some compensation may be needed as a sweetener to push through reforms. These payments must be decoupled from production, be temporary and reduce over time.

On a more positive, note the group calls for more payments to be channelled into conserving the environment and safeguarding the viability of rural economies. &#42

In Mr Hoggs office: Hands up who wants to reform the CAP…