27 November 1998
Milk quota could derail CAP reform — Fischler

By Stephen Howe

DISAGREEMENT over the future of milk quotas could derail progress towards implementing the EUs Agenda 2000 CAP reform proposals.

Speaking to Eurofarm members in Brussels last night, EU farm commissioner Franz Fischler warned of the urgent need to resolve differences between member states at an early stage.

“The dairy sector had split into three sectors each arguing their cause,” he said.

One group, headed by France, favours continuing the present system and level of quotas. The second wants to see quota values increased, while the third, and growing band, is calling for them to be abolished.

Italy is the latest country to call for an end to quotas. Last week the countrys new farm minister Paolo de Castro joined the UK, Denmark and Sweden in calls for their abolition after 2006.

But Mr Fischler doubts the feasibility of such proposals. “You cant just end quotas after 2006, it would be a disaster.

“If that was to be implemented we would need to prepare the ground (for their removal) now. And at this stage of the reform proposals that would present great difficulties.”

Mr Fischler, who supports quotas, said he did not know who would win the debate.

“Any vote on the quota system can be blocked by a minority and that could delay the CAP reform proposals,” he said.