France stands ground on EU farm policy

30th May 2005, Comments 0 comments

BRUSSELS, May 30 (AFP) - France insisted Monday that it will not give ground on reforming the EU's long-disputed system of generous aid to farmers, despite French voters' stunning rejection of the bloc's new constitution.

BRUSSELS, May 30 (AFP) - France insisted Monday that it will not give ground on reforming the EU's long-disputed system of generous aid to farmers, despite French voters' stunning rejection of the bloc's new constitution.

French farm minister Dominique Bussereau said Paris will remain "vigilant" to any attempts to subvert the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), of which France is a key beneficiary.

"The (CAP) is not called into question by what happened yesterday in our country," he said on the sidelines of a regular meeting with his EU
counterparts in Brussels.

He warned in particular against attempts to push for CAP reform as part of EU negotiations on the bloc's 2007-2013 budget plans, which are coming to a head before an EU summit in mid-June.

"Naturally efforts concerning the eight billion (euros, 10 billion dollars, in farm aid) which we receive .. could be a little bit boosted, and we should certainly be extremely vigilant," he said. "There is a risk."

He said Paris stands by an accord struck by President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in October 2002 on funding for the CAP through to 2013.

The agreement has never been formally challenged by France's EU partners, but a number of countries - notably Britain - have made no secret of their opposition to the CAP.

The budget talks are in theory the focus of a June 16-17 summit in Brussels, but the meeting risks being overshadowed by the fallout from Sunday's French referendum, which could plunge the bloc into prolonged
introspection.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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