BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Russian Polish Albanian Greek Czech Ukrainian Serbian Turkish Romanian
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Europe  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Monday, 10 June, 2002, 11:20 GMT 12:20 UK
EU in disarray over farm aid
Harvesting in a EU farm
Farm subsidies make up almost half of the EU budget
European Union foreign ministers have failed to reach agreement on the issue of farm subsidies for future member states from central and eastern Europe.

A group of countries led by Germany has been arguing for a postponement of any decision which could lead to billions of dollars being paid to new members.

Polish farmers protest in 1999
Polish farmers have been demanding more state aid
They say the EU's farming policy is too expensive as it is, and hope to push for wider agricultural reforms later in the year.

But France and Spain support plans to grant farmers in future member states phased-in payments.

The foreign ministers will return to the issue next week, and have asked ambassadors to find a compromise at a meeting planned for this Wednesday.

Copenhagen summit

The intention is to reach an agreement before a forthcoming EU summit in Seville - the climax of the Spanish EU presidency.


The Dutch say they want to know how many countries will join the EU in the next wave before making any commitments

EU diplomat
However, BBC Brussels correspondent Oana Lungescu says little headway is likely to be made until July, when the European Commission presents its blueprint for the future of EU farm policy.

Dutch officials have gone further, suggesting that agreement may not be possible until the Copenhagen summit, in December.

"The Dutch say they want to know how many countries will join the EU in the next wave before making any commitments on direct payments," one EU diplomat said.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar
Spain is one country which fears losing out when new countries join the EU

Together with the UK, Sweden and the Netherlands in a so-called "gang of four" of net contributors to the EU budget, Germany argues that the union's agricultural policy is already too costly.

The country is facing parliamentary elections in September.

France, the main beneficiary of farming aid, and Spain, the holder of the EU presidency, back European Commission proposals to grant farmers in the future member states one quarter of the current level of direct payments and phase them in over 10 years.

Candidate countries describe these proposals as discriminatory.

But privately, officials admit it may be the best they can get if they want enlargement to stay on track.

There is expected to be agreement on Monday on a French proposal to set up a regular mechanism to monitor food safety checks in candidate countries, in order to fight BSE and raise hygiene levels in slaughterhouses and dairies.

Greece will also present a plan to grant extra support to Romania and Bulgaria, the two applicant countries which are not expected to complete entry talks this year.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Mary Jane Baxter
"There is already growing concern amongst farmers who foresee a move away from direct subsidies"
See also:

30 Jan 02 | Europe
20 Nov 01 | Europe
23 Nov 01 | Europe
13 Nov 01 | Europe
14 Jun 01 | Europe
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes