ECONOMY

CAP revision will affect few Greek farmers

Brussels – The European Commission’s proposals for the revision of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) only affect about 20 percent of Greek producers and may end up affecting even less if Greek proposals are accepted, Agriculture Minister Giorgos Drys said yesterday at the end of the first day of a two-day meeting of EU agriculture ministers. The Commission proposals for an «interim revision» of the CAP include changing the nature of aid to farmers – from subsidizing production to direct income support. The proposal would exempt from cuts all farmers who currently receive less than 5,000 euros in annual aid. Thus, for 80 percent of Greek farmers, nothing will change, while most of the others will see the level of aid decrease. Greece, along with other countries, are fighting to raise the Commission’s ceiling to 8,000 euros; in this case, only 5 percent of Greek farmers would be affected. Drys told reporters he agrees with the Commission’s proposal to end the system of subsidies as it is and to provide direct income support. He criticized it, however, for being insufficiently bold and for not putting enough emphasis on preserving small landholdings. The Commission proposals were officially unveiled last week, although hints about their direction were known for months. In any case, yesterday’s session proved that talks about revision are still at a very early stage – that of governments squabbling with each other. Naturally, France, the main beneficiary of the CAP in its present form, led the naysayers lobby, with support from Portugal, Italy and Ireland. These countries say their main concern is the abandonment of the countryside and a dramatic reduction in production as the result of the proposed measures. They added that a large number of farmers would turn to other occupations if they saw their incomes decline. The Commission does not agree with this gloomy forecast and insists that the producers would actually see their incomes rise. The Commission’s greatest champions are the countries who have mostly paid for the CAP – Germany and the United Kingdom – but also Denmark and Sweden. Greece, despite its call for certain changes to the original proposals, appears closer to the second group, at this time.