EU farm reform plan poorly received - Farming Minister
LONDON (Reuters) - The European Union faces protracted negotiations to agree reforms to its Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) with proposals issued earlier this month by its executive body poorly received by member states, Britain's farming minister said on Monday.
"The impression I get is that all of us (EU farm ministers) have given them (the European Commission) a pretty poor response," Farming Minister Jim Paice told reporters at the CropWorld 2011 conference.
"There were many different viewpoints from member states," he said, referring to comments made at a meeting of farm ministers a few days ago. "The one common theme was a need for simplicity and a widespread perception that the proposals are making life more complicated."
The European Commission proposed earlier this month a plan to reform CAP due to be implemented in the 2014-2020 period.
"By saying we (farm ministers) don't like these proposals doesn't demonstrate there is any particular communion of thought about what we want instead," Paice said.
Paice said it was unlikely an agreement would be reached in time to be implemented in 2014 and there needed to be discussion about an interim plan.
"It is too soon to say where and what the changes will be but it is quite clear there will have to be a lot of changes," Paice said. "I think we need to be thinking about how we get to 2015," he added.
The EU's executive proposal aimed to make farm subsidies fairer and more environmentally friendly, in a bid to win support for keeping EU agricultural spending at about 55 billion euro-a-year up to 2020.
Some countries such as Poland do not believe the plan goes far enough to even out the imbalances in aid paid to farmers in western Europe versus less well-off producers in the east.
Others, such as Britain and Sweden, want farm spending cut to fund new growth-enhancing measures such as research and innovation.
(Editing by James Jukwey)
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