Breton insists EU farm subsidies must stay

27th October 2005, Comments 0 comments

LONDON, Oct 27 (AFP) - French finance minister Thierry Breton insisted that the EU's farm subsidies were essential for Europe's future in an interview with a British newspaper published Thursday.

LONDON, Oct 27 (AFP) - French finance minister Thierry Breton insisted that the EU's farm subsidies were essential for Europe's future in an interview with a British newspaper published Thursday.

Breton's comments come as European Union leaders gather later at Hampton Court Palace, west of London, for a crunch debate on how to spur growth and create jobs in a 21st century defined by globalisation.

The informal summit will be hosted by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has labelled the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) as "spending of the past".

However, Breton was adamant that the CAP was a modern system essential for securing Europe's food chain.

"It is a fundamental asset," Breton told the influential Financial Times business daily.

"We must protect it at all costs. Without it, every year we will have new food catastrophes, or even pandemics."

At the last EU summit in June, Blair and French President Jacques Chirac locked horns in a bitter spat over EU spending plans.

Blair refused to give up Britain's long-held EU budget rebate without profound changes to the CAP which accounts for the lion's share of EU spending -- with France the biggest beneficiary.

Breton said Europe had developed one of the world's best and safest agricultural systems.

"There is no magic here: we have decided to put our money together to build this infrastructure," he told the FT.

"We are today six billion people living on this planet. In 20 years from now we will be between nine billion to 10 billion. The security to feed our people will be an increasingly important subject for everybody."

"In French we say there is often a fit between the old and modern worlds. I think I am modern. I have lived my life around the world, dealing with technology.

"But I think being interested in food security is modern and necessary."

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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