European Parliament thwarts attempts to tackle farm subsidies

13 March 2008

European Parliament thwarts attempts to tackle farm subsidies

The European Commission is taking a careful first step on the way to tackling the misuse to which farm subsidies are put by major landowners and multinationals. Today, however, the European Parliament voted yet again to weaken the Commission's proposals. SP Euro-MP Kartika Liotard: "We support the Commission in this and did not therefore vote in favour of the Parliament's proposal."

"With this so-called 'health check' the Commission has taken a sound, if extremely modest, step towards a somewhat less unjust agriculture policy. I would like to call on my colleagues, therefore, not to support Mr Goepel's report, given that this will further weaken these proposals," said Liotard this afternoon in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

The most important element in the Commission's proposal is that limits have been imposed on the amount of subsidy which anyone can receive. "It is difficult to explain to the European public why the Prince of Monaco, or major multinationals such as Heineken and Nestlé, should receive hundreds of thousands of euros in income support in the form of agricultural subsidies, simply because they own some land in Europe," says Liotard. "At the same time real farmers often face great difficulties merely making ends meet. Income support in agriculture is intended to give farmers a reasonable livelihood, not to line the pockets of multinationals and big landowners."

The ongoing debate over subsidies paid under the EU's Common Agricultural Policy has revealed that they are sometimes put to bizarre use. Beatrix, Queen of the Netherlands, for example, gets money from Brussels for her olive trees in Italy. Since 2005 farm subsidies paid in the Netherlands are made public. On many occasions in the past Kartika Liotard has demanded the same transparency at European level, together with a fairer division of the spoils.

You are here