31 March 1998
Polish farmers’ EU scepticism grows

POLES are growing increasingly sceptical about the benefits of joining the European Union with the most vociferous opposition coming from farmers.

In Poland about 26% of the population are employed in farming, but only a third of its produce is sold on the open market.

Only those farmers who currently export their produce could compete in an expanded EU. The rest produce food for self-consumption and local markets. Polish farmers say their livelihoods are directly threatened by membership.

Under expansion, new member states are not expected to receive the same level of benefits as existing EU members. A classic example is the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) where a sizeable chunk of the EU budget is earmarked towards subsidising farmers.

Polish farmers claim they should be eligible for the CAP benefits once they are members. They argue that southern European states employ just as many people in agriculture as themselves with 30% of the Greek population and 22% of Portugals working on farms. The average size of the Italian farm is smaller than in Poland.

  • The Times 31/03/98 page 13