Agriculture and Fisheries Council

Environment Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 4th May 2004.

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Photo of Jimmy Hood Jimmy Hood Chair, European Scrutiny Committee, Chair, European Scrutiny Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the outcome was of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 21 April; what the Government's stance was on the issues discussed, including its voting record; and if she will make a statement.

Photo of Ben Bradshaw Ben Bradshaw Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Local Environment, Marine and Animal Welfare)

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State and I represented the United Kingdom at a meeting of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Luxembourg on 21–22 April 2004.

The Council concluded its consideration of proposals to reform four CAP regimes: those for cotton, olive oil, tobacco and hops. Agreement on all four was eventually reached by qualified majority. This was a difficult negotiation but the outcome is highly satisfactory from a UK point of view. Overall, the agreement followed the main principles of last June's reforms with decoupling in hops from 2005 (with the option to delay this until 2006) and partial decoupling in the other three sectors from 2006. The rates vary but that for cotton is 65 per cent., a small increase over the 60 per cent. originally proposed; and in the case of tobacco, the rate will be 100 per cent. in 2010 and thereafter. Although the UK would have supported higher rates in all sectors and an earlier move to full decoupling, this agreement sends positive signals to our trading partners by marking a further step towards a more liberalised and market focused agriculture in the EU.

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