26 May 1998
Euro ministers agree Agenda 2000 is the way ahead
By Johann Tasker in Brussels
EUROPEAN farm ministers in Brussels yesterday (Monday) vowed to push ahead with radical reform of the Common Agricultural Policy.
After an intensive initial examination of the European Commissions Agenda 2000 package, the ministers concluded that CAP reform was vital to enable EU enlargement and the success of the forthcoming World Trade Organisation negotiations.
The next step along the road to reform will be made next month, when EU ministers meet in Luxembourg. They will discuss the extent to which price support will be cut and over what time period the reforms will take place.
The UK will be pressing for a gradual phasing out of all production-linked subsidies, a cut in support prices for beef and the abolition of milk quotas by 2006.
The UK Government also favours a “national envelope” giving individual countries some freedom to decide how to compensate their farmers. It also wants to see a move towards greener, less intensive farming methods and the development of rural economic activities complementary to farming.
“We need to recognise that taxpayers will not finance permanent subsidies to farmers,” said junior farm minister Lord Donoughue.
“The measures proposed here are vital to deal effectively with the problems of fragile rural areas,” he added.