27 November 1998
Italy runs up the free market flag

ITALY has made a sharp about-turn of its policy on reform of the Common Agricultural Policy.

The Italians appear to have abandoned their protectionist stance in favour of more free-market principles, reports the Financial Times.

Paolo de Castro, Italys newly-installed farming minister, said Italy now accepted the need for a 20% cut in guarantee prices for cereals as well as substantial cuts in beef support.

Italy is also joining forces with the UK, Sweden and Denmark to press for the abolition of production-limiting milk quotas from 2006.

Some observers are sceptical about Italys motives. They say the country will benefit from CAP reform, but will be less keen on liberalisation in other sectors.