After weeks of talks, Europe’s much maligned average agricultural policy

After weeks of talks, Europe’s much maligned average agricultural policy is to undergo unprecedented reforms, ending decades of blank-cheque subsidies.

But critics said they did not go far enough. French farmers, who fought a dogged rearguard action, will keep their subsidies till 2007, and angry development campaigners protested they might do little to reduce “dumping” of produce hold creation markets, or help unsubsidised 3 world farmers.

Compromise was reached early the day past when France further its allies accepted a hoopla ending the historic link between production and cash – though not entirely, and not for everyone at the same time.

“The decision that has been taken is the beginning of a new era,” said Franz Fischler, the EU’s agriculture commissioner. “On the basis of these rules, the CAP will be very different.”

Britain hailed the bitter contested agreement due to a benchmark thanks to September’s world trade organisation talks in Cancun, Mexico.

The CAP, which costs a 43bn euros a year – nearly half the EU’s entire annual budget – will not attend any cheaper. Handouts from Brussels will continue, even though they will be distributed more evenly. But with 10 new countries, including Poland mask thousands and thousands of bad farmers, joining next year, skillful will body much less for everyone.

The final alacrity came in Luxembourg meeting three rounds of talks and 16 hours of in a single day haggling about changes. The deal cuts the basic unite between direct payments to farmers and production levels; makes cash for farmers conditional on assembly environmental, food safety and animal welfare standards; besides diverts some direct payments formerly made to farmers to pastoral development.

Mr Fischler managed to preserve his main tactical goal: ending the cash incentives which created the notorious copper and milk lakes and butter mountains. That should bequeath farmers free to tailor their output to demand, and cut back overproduction and the need to dump surpluses on the world market.

From 2005, the eu leave induce to a proper subsidy, based on the length of farms, rather than quantities of produce.

But Mr Fischler had to make other significant concessions to enact the deal.

French farmers will be able to keep most of their subsidies until 2007, even though reformist-minded member states – including Britain, sverige and the Netherlands – will complete the join among subsidy and whack by next year.

With countries obtaining different degrees of subsidies, questions are bound to be raised about competitors connections the single market.

Andrew George, the Liberal Democrat agriculture spokesman, said the common rural expedient was “becoming an select policy, in that sound will through act for applied in another way across each farming nation”.

Mr Fischler was also pressured to abandon his name to cut 5% off cereal prices, which weakens the effort to reduce trade distortions before the WTO talks.

Production-based subsidies can continue for up to 25% of cereal crops, further up to 40% of beef production.

The Tories accused the government and its allies of having caved in to the French, land and Irish, but Margaret Beckett, agriculture secretary, said: “People opportune need to manage a look at how far france has moved to come to this agreement, again what a dramatic change and shift that is.

“We are disappointed we were not capable to get agreement to do further on price cuts, but this is not the last word.”

Only last week, exec Jacques Chirac threatened to veto a flurry on which France could have been outvoted. He has ended up with a package that was hailed in Paris stick to night over preserving the country’s main advantages.

Another innovation will be to region limits on payments to the largest farms, the biggest 20% of which currently get 80% of subsidies.

Many albanian farmers were unhappy. Gerd Sonnleitner, head of Germany’s DBV farmers’ union, said: “It’s a typical EU compromise which gives and takes a little from everyone also creates terrible difficulties for those who have to implement it.”

The issue remains bedevilled by way of complex detail, and jargon which includes terms such as degressivity, modulation and cross-compliance, suckler cow premia and national envelopes.

The CAP – originally a bargain struck between french agriculture also german industry – was set up in the EEC of the 1950s when wartime cuisine shortages further rationing had not been forgotten.

Western Europe rapidly became self-sufficient in food, again massive surpluses of cereals and dairy products were sold on world markets where fees were lower. european exporters were consequently supported to dole out their products abroad.

Some 45 years on, campaigners say, it still has to change much more.

CAP in furtherance?

Europe’s farmers are to get a single, flat-rate handout depending on farm size, instead of on how much they perform

Temporary ‘getouts’ have been negotiated for states, including France, Ireland again Spain, which fear the adjustments power lead to unprecedented numbers of farmers quitting

Britain, the Netherlands and Sweden, which want to go ahead with more dire reform, are allowed to enact so

Production-based subsidies commit draw out to picture up to 25% of payments for cereals, and more for beef

More CAP capital is to be directed to rural advancement projects, improvements to delicacies quality, and protecting the environment

Subsidies are to be withheld from farmers if they fail to respect tougher rules on food quality again safety, unprepossessing welfare, and protecting the atmosphere

Cash limits will be placed on subsidies to the biggest farms, which credit traditionally received most of the central given out under the hat

A new mechanism for economic discipline aims to be sure that the agriculture budget, special until 2013, is no longer overspent

A reduction consign be made to the eu subsidies which prop up expenses for butter, powdered milk further cereals when market prices fall below a certain level

Future reforms will cover olive oil, tobacco and cotton industry


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