European Agriculture: 'A small step forward'

19 November 2008

European Agriculture: 'A small step forward'

The European Parliament today used its plenary session in Strasbourg to debate the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Votes were taken on the issues of direct financial support for farmers, the extension of milk quotas and the proposed abolition of controversial export subsidies. "The SP stands of course for a radical reform of the CAP," said SP Euro-MP Kartika Liotard, a member of the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee. "The proposals which have won support here are rather thin, but nevertheless a small step in the right direction."

Tobacco subsidies

The result of more than an hour's voting was that the milk quota reform was rejected, export subsidies retained, tobacco production would continue to be subsidised, no subsidy ceiling would be imposed and no simplified procedure would be introduced to the benefit of small beneficiaries of these subsidies. Even an annual subsidy of less than €1,000 will continue to demand the same complicated application procedures as much bigger sums. The SP proposed in vain that a maximum agricultural subsidy be fixed in order to prevent food multinationals from getting their hands on money which would be better used to support small farmers.


Kartika Liotard"It's hard to explain how the EU on the one hand continues to subsidise the cultivation of tobacco and on the other subsidises anti-smoking campaigns," says Liotard. The subsidies are paid to producers of inferior quality tobacco which is then dumped outside the EU, for instance on the African market. "And that export subsidies will for the time being be maintained represents a grave injustice perpetrated on the farmers of developing countries," she added.

And that 'small step forward'?

"Fortunately the European Parliament voted for more flexibility for the member states in relation to how they spend their agriculture budgets, which is at least something."

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