EU farm policy should be're-nationalised': Le Monde

23rd June 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, June 23 (AFP) - In a major break with long-standing French policy, France's most influential newspaper Le Monde on Thursday called for the partial "re-nationalisation" of the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) so that individual member states pay part of subsidies to farmers.

PARIS, June 23 (AFP) - In a major break with long-standing French policy, France's most influential newspaper Le Monde on Thursday called for the partial "re-nationalisation" of the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) so that individual member states pay part of subsidies to farmers.

In an editorial responding to British Prime Minister Tony Blair's keynote policy speech in Brussels, Le Monde said the only way to find the funds needed for EU research and technology was to cut spending on agriculture.

"The only solution involves the CAP. A partial re-nationalisation is the path to follow," the newspaper said.

"France can accept a progressive re-nationalisation. Because in an enlarged Europe it is not justifiable that (France) receive 21 percent of the CAP. And because if Brussels could pay for farmers, it is less logical that it pay for gardeners," Le Monde said.

"Gardeners" was a reference to recent reforms to the CAP that break the link between farm output and subsidies. These have turned farm-owners into "guardians of the countryside" rather than producers, Le Monde said.

In his speech to European deputies Blair repeated his argument that the CAP must be reformed.

"A modern budget for Europe is not one that 10 years from now is still spending 40 percent of its money on the CAP," he said.

The prime minister said that he did not expect to renegotiate the CAP "overnight," but that changes had to be made in the second half of the budgetary period leading from 2007 to 2013.

In France it has been an article of faith since the foundation of the EU that farm policy should be conducted exclusively at the European level, and any talk of 're-nationalisation' is regarded as an unacceptable retreat from the goal of deeper union.

Re-nationalisation would mean member governments agreeing to take on part of the cost currently borne by the central Brussels budget.

France is by far the biggest beneficiary of the CAP.

In the first government reaction to Blair's speech, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy told France-Info radio that there could be no change to the CAP before the agreed date of 2013.

"We have a package for the years 2007 to 2013. The British themselves committed themselves to it in October 2002. Political commitments must always be respected, especially when there are millions of people involved -- farm-owners and businessmen who know that the rules are set to 2013," he said.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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