Tuesday, November 08, 2005

An excellent article from the Independent newspaper

Monaco's Prince Albert gets EU farm subsidy of £200,000
By Stephen Castle in Brussels
Published: 07 November 2005

Prince Albert, the billionaire ruler of Monaco, is one of the biggest beneficiaries of European farm subsidies, it was reported on the eve of a meeting on reform of EU spending.

Oxfam claims that Prince Albert, who is worth an estimated £1.35bn, received €287,000 (£194,000) in payments under the Common Agricultural Policy last year.

The subsidy was for a cereal farm of around 700 hectares. Monaco, only slightly larger than Hyde Park in London, is overwhelmingly urban and Prince Albert's farming interests are believed to be over the border in France.

The charity also said that the two biggest French recipients took €1.7m a year between them. Meanwhile, 70 per cent of small farmers received only 17 per cent of the subsidies.

"France's argument that the CAP is used primarily to support its small farmers rings hollow," said Jo Leadbeater of Oxfam. "Europe's regime of farm subsidies goes to the wealthiest landowners and destroys the livelihoods of poor farmers."

The revelations came as Britain softened its demands for cuts in European farm subsidies. The Government relaunches talks today on EU finance and the future of the UK's budget rebate from Brussels.

EU foreign ministers meet in Brussels to discuss a paper circulated by the UK, which holds the presidency of the EU and which describes the need to modernise the budget as a "long-term aspiration".

But many EU states see the UK rebate as the main stumbling block to a deal, and several ambassadors criticised the British position paper last week. One diplomat said that the document had been "destroyed" in discussions.

Britain helped block a deal in June on the EU's budget for 2007-13, saying that it would only compromise over the UK's annual €4-5bn rebate if there were agreement on reform of the Common Agricultural Policy.

The rebate was negotiated by former prime minister Margaret Thatcher in 1984 to compensate Britain for receiving relatively little from the CAP, which still accounts for around 40 per cent of EU spending.

The description of budget reform as a "long-term aspiration" comes in a three-page letter designed to restart discussions on a budget for the 25-nation bloc. The aim is to get a deal in December at a two-day summit of heads of government in Brussels.

Speaking to the European Parliament in June, Tony Blair said: "We cannot agree a new financial perspective that does not at least set out a process that leads to a more rational budget." But the language from the Government has been less precise since then, and the new document from the British presidency strikes a measured tone ahead of talks due to take place among foreign ministers today.

It says that, before putting forward detailed plans on how to solve the budget impasse, the British want broad agreement on plans outlined by the European Commission to "help the EU adjust more rapidly to the challenges of globalisation".

The measures include earmarking specific funds for research and development and creating a fund to deal with the impact of job losses.

It also highlights the need for a review clause under which member states would agree to re-examine all EU spending, including farm subsidies, during the period 2007-13.

And, in an oblique reference to the UK rebate, it says that it wants to "make proposals in line with the generally shared principle of fair treatment" as "part of an overall package covering the revenue and expenditure sides".

If Britain gets enough backing for its approach, it is expected to put forward ideas for the first two headings this month, but probably leave proposals on the most thorny issues - including the rebate - until December.

The Oxfam revelations will increase pressure for reform of the CAP, though Britain's critics point out that the country opposes measures intended to put a ceiling on payments to individual farmers.

Britain is one of relatively few countries to make payments made under the CAP public.

Prince Albert, the billionaire ruler of Monaco, is one of the biggest beneficiaries of European farm subsidies, it was reported on the eve of a meeting on reform of EU spending.

Oxfam claims that Prince Albert, who is worth an estimated £1.35bn, received €287,000 (£194,000) in payments under the Common Agricultural Policy last year.

The subsidy was for a cereal farm of around 700 hectares. Monaco, only slightly larger than Hyde Park in London, is overwhelmingly urban and Prince Albert's farming interests are believed to be over the border in France.

The charity also said that the two biggest French recipients took €1.7m a year between them. Meanwhile, 70 per cent of small farmers received only 17 per cent of the subsidies.

"France's argument that the CAP is used primarily to support its small farmers rings hollow," said Jo Leadbeater of Oxfam. "Europe's regime of farm subsidies goes to the wealthiest landowners and destroys the livelihoods of poor farmers."

The revelations came as Britain softened its demands for cuts in European farm subsidies. The Government relaunches talks today on EU finance and the future of the UK's budget rebate from Brussels.

EU foreign ministers meet in Brussels to discuss a paper circulated by the UK, which holds the presidency of the EU and which describes the need to modernise the budget as a "long-term aspiration".

But many EU states see the UK rebate as the main stumbling block to a deal, and several ambassadors criticised the British position paper last week. One diplomat said that the document had been "destroyed" in discussions.

Britain helped block a deal in June on the EU's budget for 2007-13, saying that it would only compromise over the UK's annual €4-5bn rebate if there were agreement on reform of the Common Agricultural Policy.

The rebate was negotiated by former prime minister Margaret Thatcher in 1984 to compensate Britain for receiving relatively little from the CAP, which still accounts for around 40 per cent of EU spending.
The description of budget reform as a "long-term aspiration" comes in a three-page letter designed to restart discussions on a budget for the 25-nation bloc. The aim is to get a deal in December at a two-day summit of heads of government in Brussels.

Speaking to the European Parliament in June, Tony Blair said: "We cannot agree a new financial perspective that does not at least set out a process that leads to a more rational budget." But the language from the Government has been less precise since then, and the new document from the British presidency strikes a measured tone ahead of talks due to take place among foreign ministers today.

It says that, before putting forward detailed plans on how to solve the budget impasse, the British want broad agreement on plans outlined by the European Commission to "help the EU adjust more rapidly to the challenges of globalisation".

The measures include earmarking specific funds for research and development and creating a fund to deal with the impact of job losses.

It also highlights the need for a review clause under which member states would agree to re-examine all EU spending, including farm subsidies, during the period 2007-13.

And, in an oblique reference to the UK rebate, it says that it wants to "make proposals in line with the generally shared principle of fair treatment" as "part of an overall package covering the revenue and expenditure sides".

If Britain gets enough backing for its approach, it is expected to put forward ideas for the first two headings this month, but probably leave proposals on the most thorny issues - including the rebate - until December.

The Oxfam revelations will increase pressure for reform of the CAP, though Britain's critics point out that the country opposes measures intended to put a ceiling on payments to individual farmers.

Britain is one of relatively few countries to make payments made under the CAP public.

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This is one of my main gripes about the EU. On one hand, I have a report here which is talking about tackling poverty in developing countries, which are primarily primary product producers, and in rural areas of the EU. On the other hand, we have a report from Oxfam which once again states that the main beneficiaries of the CAP aren't small farmers. The Duke of Devonshire was in a report last year when it was stated that the rich in the UK are being subsidised by the CAP.

Please don't think I am anti-farmer. I think we have so much to owe to the industry, especially since they keep the countryside looking beautiful. Give me farms over housing estates anyday. However, we shouldn't be having protectionism on such levels. It doesn't benefit the farming industry in the UK, judging from letters we have received here in the Parliament. Telling people how much they can and cannot grow without reference to break even points and economic efficiency? The propaganda ministry in the EU love to promote how great the EU is for development, but how can it be with such a policy?

Tony Blair, do not weaken your resolve.

2 comments:

Trixy said...

NOw, I've let anon. comments be posted but I do have some rule.

If you are just simply going to sit there and waste your time and mine writing incredibly long, vitriolic posts I will delete them. If you have something funny, witty, clever or useful to say please do. If you don't like what I say and have some uncontrollabvle rage for someone not agreeing with you, piss off. This is a light hearted blog.

Brian O'mally said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.