July 16, 2008


France hopes to set revamp EU farm subsidies


French Agriculture Minister Michel Barnier said Tuesday (July 15, 2008) he hoped to broker a deal to reform the EU's vast and expensive farm support scheme in November.


France currently holds the EU's rotating presidency, giving the minister the chance to make sweeping changes to the controversial subsidies.


He said a deal would "adapt, preserve, renovate the Common Agriculture Policy, especially when world food insecurity is a concern.


The CAP eats up around 40 percent of the EU budget and France, as the bloc's biggest farm producer and therefore top beneficiary of its subsidies scheme, has so far been reluctant to overhaul it.


On May 20, the European Commission unveiled its package of proposals aimed at updating the CAP in the face of soaring food prices by phasing out milk quotas and scrapping rules on keeping land fallow.


When asked about a commission plan to use up to EUR1 billion in unspent funds from the CAP budget to help aid farmers in poor countries, Barnier said he would study the proposal "in a constructive manner."


CAP finances are currently brimming with surpluses because high prices for food products has made it unnecessary for the EU to ensure minimum prices through buying up excess supplies. However, Germany, who would normally get the excess from such surplus, have strongly opposed the proposal.

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