Conservatives want co-financing

SINGLE FARM payments should be maintained until 2012, but increasingly paid for by compulsory co-financing from national treasuries, according to a new policy document from the Conservatives.

The idea forms part of a new six point plan presented on Thursday (June 30) and is designed to ensure continued support for farmers, but without UK taxpayers contributing excessively to supporting French farmers.

“The current money-go-round means that British taxpayers pay into a central EU fund and a disproportionate amount of this goes back out to French, Greek and Spanish farmers,” said shadow DEFRA secretary Oliver Letwin.

“We’re suggesting that 90% of UK contributions should go to the EU fund, but 10% should go direct from the Treasury to farmers. This percentage should then increase progressively, so British taxpayers make smaller payments to French farmers.”

Mr Letwin stressed that such co-financing should be compulsory, to avoid distortions between member states.

The Conservative plan also suggests that, after 2012, support for farming and rural communities should be redirected at environmental and amenity aims through increased rural development spending and further co-financing.

Other ideas include ending all support for tobacco production, compulsory decoupling throughout the EU, reducing tariffs and phasing out export subsidies, and retaining intervention as a safety net only.

“We believe that, rather than negotiating away the British rebate, the Prime Minister should be using this opportunity to achieve further structural improvements in the CAP.”

Mr Letwin’s comments came in the same week as Chancellor Gordon Brown accused the EU of “hypocrisy” for promising increased aid to Africa, while continuing to subsidise food exports.