Sarkozy would spark EU crisis to save CAP
FRENCH president Nicolas Sarkozy would provoke a crisis in the Europe Union rather than see the Common Agricultural Policy weakened.
“I say clearly, I would be ready to have a crisis in Europe before I accept the dismantling of the common agricultural policy.
“I will not let our agricultural sector die,” Mr Sarkozy told Reuters.
His comments come as member states jostle to influence the European Commission whose initial proposals on how the CAP should look after 2013 are due out later this year.
Mr Sarkozy’s comments will cheer French farmers who are the largest beneficiaries of the CAP’s £50 billion budget.
They will also draw the battle line between other member states, most notably the UK, who favour dismantling the CAP in favour of a more market-orientated policy.
Speaking after a cabinet meeting on Wednesday (March 24) Mr Sarkozy said free market policies would allow speculation to determine agricultural prices and would prevent farmers from living ‘decently’.
Instead he advocated market regulation and direct payments to guarantee farm incomes.
The French protectionist stance is likely to garner support across the European Union.
Last December Bruno Le Maire, the French Agriculture Minister, held a meeting for 22 ‘like-minded’ European Union member states to devise CAP policy after 2013.
Mr Le Maire neglected to invite the so-called ‘CAP reformists’ of Britain, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and Malta.
Defra received criticism at the time for failing to influence key talks. However, the Department has since softened its stance.
Jim Fitzpatrick, Food and Farming Minister, told Farmers Guardian last month that while his Department had not shifted from its overall desire to see the end of direct EU farm support, it accepted this could not be achieved in the next round of reforms.
Instead he said the UK would ‘listen to Europe’ on CAP.