|Author (Person)||Taylor, Simon|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol 7, No.7, 15.2.01, p4|
PARIS will push for a major shift in agriculture spending towards small farmers when the European Commission launches a new round of farm policy reform next year.
French European Affairs Minister Pierre Moscovici says his country's support for reorienting policy is in line with recent German calls for smaller-scale, more environmentally-friendly farming.
In an exclusive interview with European Voice, Moscovici rejected suggestions that Paris was not interested in a substantial reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) next year. "This is not true," he said. "We have never been against reform."
Instead, France will support changes it outlined in the run-up to the 1999 Berlin summit, where EU leaders agreed the last round of CAP reforms. "France proposed a substantial reform in Berlin, calling for the introduction of modulation of aids based on the size of farmholdings, which emphasised sustainable development and sustainable agriculture and quality agriculture," he said.
'Modulation' involves limiting subsidies to large farms. Moscovici argued that the ongoing mad cow disease crisis has shown the need for this approach to farm policy. "We think that after current events the emphasis of this reform is the order of the day," he said.
Moscovici said Paris would put the same plans back on the table next year if Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler pushes for a substantial reform of farm policy.
"We still have the same ideas," he said, stressing that while he was in favour of a reorientation, there could not be any changes in the financial envelope agreed at Berlin. "I was chief negotiator for Agenda 2000. I know what it cost in terms of diplomatic and political efforts," he said.
France's support for less intensive and more eco-friendly farming gives a considerable boost to Fischler's hopes for a radical reform of the CAP next year. The Commission's plans have already been helped by a shift in German thinking in reaction to the outbreak of BSE cases. German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has called for an end to industrialised agriculture and his new farm and consumer health minister, Green MP Renate Künast, has argued in favour of more eco-friendly farming.
Moscovici said French thinking on changes to the CAP was compatible with the new line emerging in Germany. "It seems to me that the preoccupations expressed are quite compatible with an ecological view of the agriculture of tomorrow," he said.
But Moscovici's call to target spending on small farmers will face strong opposition from the UK, where the average farmholding is much larger than in the rest of the EU. Until recent reforms came into force it was estimated that 60% of the Union's annual €40-billion spending went to 20% of farmers, mainly because aids to cereals growers, which generally have large holdings, account for a significant portion of the budget.
Paris will push for a major shift in agriculture spending towards small farmers when the European Commission launches a new round of farm policy reform in 2002. French European Affairs Minister Pierre Moscovici says his country's support for reorienting policy is in line with recent German calls for smaller-scale, more environmentally-friendly farming.
|Subject Categories||Business and Industry|