DOC - Europa

Strasbourg, 3 June 2003
Fischler on farm reforms: "Any alternative solutions
should be practical and meaningful"
At today's plenary debate in the European Parliament on reforms to the
common agricultural policy (CAP), Franz Fischler, the Commissioner for
agriculture, noted that Parliament, Commission and Member States were
broadly in agreement on the goals of reform. Our common aspiration is a
CAP geared without reservation to economic, social and environmental
goals, Mr Fischler said, but we had not got there yet. This was the
background to the Commission's reform proposals. He did not want to gloss
over the fact that differences persisted over how the reform should be
organised and what concrete steps should be followed. There was much
work still to be done on the details, but it would be possible to adopt the
reform package at the Council meeting in June. The Commissioner said that
much of what Parliament was proposing was worthy of consideration and
that the Commission was able to accept some of Parliament's proposed
amendments. The vote on Parliament's opinion is expected to be taken on
Thursday, 5 June. This would open the way to agreement on the reforms at
the next meeting of the Council of agriculture ministers, due to open in
Luxembourg on 11 June.
Fischler on proposed amendments: decoupling
Mr Fischler said that there was much in the reports from the European Parliament
worth reflecting on. "But the risks inherent in each reform step have to be weighed
up. Let us not forget that in the end the whole package must be manageable by us
and understandable for the farmer. I am very attached to preferential treatment for
the less-favoured areas, as called for by the European Council. Whether
differentiating the rates of modulation is the appropriate instrument here - I would
neither rule it out nor confirm it. There are also solid arguments for leaving various
sensitive areas of production out of decoupling, such as suckler cows and sheep and
goat premiums. But here again we have to recognise the down-side of such an
approach, such as keeping aid tied to production and the constraints that prevent
farmers from doing what is commercially most meaningful for them. In short, I do
take Parliament's proposals very seriously. They are helpful and well-thought-out.
But I am not in a position today to make promises in all cases. Our work will continue
- in dialogue with Parliament, internally and in negotiations with the Member States,
the Commissioner said.
Reforming the cereals market
Mr Fischler stressed that the reform proposals would offer grain producers a solid
and long-term perspective. He was against preserving the status quo. "Experience in
recent years has shown that we have not been producing in line with the market and
have thereby lost export opportunities. Without this reform our cereals producers will
not be able to find adequate outlets for their products." Intervention should be a
safety net, not a substitute for price-setting by the marketplace. The intervention
prices had to be lowered and monthly increments had to be abolished.
Reform of the dairy sector
Mr Fischler welcomed the fact that Parliament was in favour of keeping milk quotas
until 2015. "Parliament is critical of our proposal to advance the Agenda 2000 price
cuts from 2005 to 2004 and additionally lower the intervention price," he said. "I
myself am convinced that these steps are necessary with a view to improving the
competitiveness of the milk sector, especially in the light of world market
developments and discussions in the WTO." Another sensitive point seemed to be
raising quotas by 1% in 2007 and again in 2008. But independent studies showed
that the market should be able to absorb these additional quantities through
expanding consumption. He was therefore convinced that these proposals made
sense. If there was an inclination to wait and see what further developments might
bring, the Commission was not averse to discussing the idea, the Commissioner
The full text of Commissioner Fischler's speech to the European Parliament is
available on the Internet at the following web address:|0|RAPID&lg=EN&display=