European Council waters down CAP reforms

by Teresa Acklin
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   BERLIN — A plan to cut intervention prices for cereals by 20% over a two-year period as part of the European Union's Agenda 2000 package was watered down in late March at a meeting of the European Council in Berlin.

   With France leading opposition to the Common Agricultural Policy reform plan as too costly, E.U. leaders agreed to reduce the intervention price for cereals by 15% in two equal steps of 7.5% in 2000-01 and 2001-02.

   “A decision upon a final reduction in the intervention price to be applied from 2002-03 onwards will be taken in the light of market developments,” the European Council said.

   Under the agreement, direct payments to cereal farmers will be increased in two equal steps from from &54 to &63 per tonne. The agreement called for an increase to &66 per tonne.

   Among other changes, the European Council delayed reform of the dairy sector until the 2005-06 marketing year and agreed to cut beef support prices by 20%, instead of the 30% reduction proposed by Franz Fischler, agricultural commissioner for the European Union.