6 October 1995

Reform of CAPshould come before EU enlargement, but…

By Peter Bullen

Political correspondent

EU ENLARGEMENT eastwards should go ahead even if the Community refuses to reform its common agricultural policy first, said farm minister Douglas Hogg on Tuesday.

Speaking in London on the eve of a three-day visit to Poland, Mr Hogg conceded that the majority of the EU states did not back Britains CAP reforms. He wanted to see substantial CAP reform before enlargement because he thought the costs of not doing so were well-nigh insuperable.

Bringing central and eastern European countries into the EU without CAP reform could add £17bn to the CAPs annual £34bn bill, he said.

"I am not saying postpone enlargement until we get reform because I think enlargement itself will create such pressure for change that it will happen," he said.

During his visit to Poland Mr Hogg is visiting a family farm near Warsaw, meeting the Polish farm minister Roman Jagielinski and supporting British exhibitors at the Polagra farm show at Posnan.

He said he wanted to find out how Poland was transferring its agriculture from a command economy into one that could come into line with EU farming if it entered the Community early next century. He also wanted to find out Polands views on the CAP and to explain Britains views on reforms which aimed at a more market-directed agriculture.