Fischler gives candidates 10 good reasons to accept CAP proposal

EU Agriculture Commissioner, Franz Fischler,
underlined the benefits of the Commission’s proposal for the
enlargement negotiations on agriculture in an address to the
Farm Ministers of the 13 candidate countries.

The Agricultar Council held an informal exchange of views
with the candidate countries on the Commission’s strategy
on 19 March. The Commission presented its new study on the
effects of EU accession for the farmers in the candidate
countries, which concludes that the candidates will benefit
significantly from the CAP, even with no direct payments at
all. The study shows that a certain amount of direct aid is
necessary to stabilise incomes, but a low level of direct
support is enough to ensure that the impact of enlargement
on farmers’ income in all the candidate countries is
positive.

The ministers also stressed the
importance of food safety in the enlargement process. The
EU should not risk lowering food safety consumer protection
standards. The EU urged the candidate countries to fully
comply with the EU’s food safety law.

 

Commissioner Fischler

called for a realistic approach to negotiations on the
agricultural issues. He warned the candidate countries not
to "raise false expectations amongst farmers". "To insist
on 100 percent direct payments and make this point over and
over again will not be a winning strategy. It is clear that
the negotiating margins are narrow." The Commissioner
expressed concerns over the "confrontational statements"
from some candidate countries.

Mr Fischler

underlined that "in order to reap the benefits of EU
membership the candidate countries have to meet EU
production standards". He called on the candidates to make
the necessary efforts to restructure.

Enlargement Commissioner, Günther
Verheugen

, described the Commission's proposal as "the best possible
offer for the candidate countries". He pointed out that no
direct payments were foreseen in Agenda 2000 that EU
leaders adopted in March 1999 at the European Council in
Berlin to prepare the EU financial framework for
enlargement.

The Polish Agriculture Minister, Jaroslav
Kalinowski

, described the Commission's proposal as "neither generous
nor fair". He underlined that the principle of fair
competition should be preserved after enlargement, and
asked how that could be done when farmers in the current
and future Member States will be receiving different levels
of support.

 

The Commission proposed a strategy for the agricultural
chapter of the enlargement negotiations, on 30 January
2002. The strategy opposes granting 100 percent direct aid
payments to farmers in the candidate countries because it
would slow down restructuring. The Commission proposed that
direct payments be introduced over a transition period of
ten years: for 2004, 2005, 2006 it suggested direct
payments equivalent to 25, 30 and 35 percent of EU levels,
reaching 100 percent in 2013. According to the proposal,
this aid could be topped up with national funds. It also
proposes substantial aid for rural development programmes
to help the candidate countries implement the necessary
restructuring of their agricultural sectors.

The new Member States would have full
and immediate access to Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)
market measures, such as cereal intervention. Their
governments whould have the option of granting direct
payments in the form of an area payment, de-coupled from
production and paid per hectare. The Commission also
proposes to determine production quotas for sugar and milk
on the basis of average production over the years
1995-1999.

 

The Commission is expected to present a draft common
negotiating position for agriculture by the end of March.

 

Subscribe to our newsletters

Subscribe