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Monday, 15 July, 2002, 04:19 GMT 05:19 UK
EU farm reforms debated
Harvesting in a EU farm
The 40-year-old CAP has fallen into disrepute

Agriculture ministers from across the European Union have their first chance on Monday to debate radical proposals for reforming the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

They are meeting in Brussels to discuss plans approved last week by the European Commission which would cut the link between the amount of aid given to farmers and the amount of grain, milk or meat they produce.

French farmers stage earlier protest
Some farmers have reacted with fury
Protests by farmers angry at the proposed reforms are also expected.

This ministerial meeting is expected to be long and intense.

Parts of the session will be televised, which makes it even more likely that some ministers will take a tough line, aware that their farmers back at home will expect nothing less.

The EU is already split on the proposals for reform.

Countries like Britain, Germany and the Netherlands, which want to reduce the EU's huge agricultural budget, say change is essential.

Protests

Other member states, led by France, want to defend what they have.

French President Jacques Chirac has already said he is determined that there will be no major changes to the common agricultural policy until 2006.

The European Commission approved plans last week to break the link between the financial aid farmers receive from Brussels and what they produce.

The commissioner in charge of agriculture, Franz Fischler, also wants to cap payments to large farms and invest more money in food safety and environmentally-friendly rural development programmes.

Many farmers say the plans could destroy them, and protests are expected in Brussels while the meeting takes place.

See also:

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