Time to give up the CAP

IT IS TIME to get rid of the Common Agricultural Policy and let member states sort out their farming subsidies as they wish, writes Andreas Whittam Smith in today’s The Independent.

Agriculture is different from issues relating to the environment, defence or anti-terrorism activities, which are all best solved by cross-frontier cooperation.

The CAP, however, is solely a financial mechanism for supporting farm incomes, Mr Whittam Smith writes.

He argues that for British consumers, the CAP price has been high. On the one hand, it has kept cheap food imports out through high tariff barriers. On the other, it has required substantical contributions from Britian to the EU budget.

“The result is to add £9 on to the weekly food bill of a family of four. Or, to put it antoher way, the annual income of a European dairy cow exceeds that of half the world’s human population,” Mr Whittam Smith states.

He argues that President Chirac, by raising the question of the British rebate, has unwittingly handed Britain a bargaining tool that should be used to change the whole of the EU budget.

And Britain should work to get rid of the CAP, Mr Whittam Smith says, as there is literally no need for it.