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EU Ministers Discuss Policy Reform

EU farm ministers see market management instruments as a key component in tackling price volatility and supply crises in the European Union’s common agricultural policy (CAP) after 2013.

The ministers debated the role of market-related agricultural subsidies as part of a wider review of the bloc’s farm policy Feb. 22, which eats up 40 per cent of the EU’s annual budget, worth about 125 billion euros ($170.3 billion).

The European Union is planning an overhaul of its complex agricultural policy, which often provokes fierce arguments between member states. The European Commission is expected to present draft policy options by this summer.

Spain, which chairs the EU rotating presidency, said that existing market instruments should be improved, and new ones introduced to complement them. A majority of EU governments agreed with this assessment, an EU source at the meeting said.

France wants stronger EU intervention to combat future price volatility in agricultural markets, the country’s Farm Minister Bruno Le Maire told journalists.

As well as maintaining the EU’s storage intervent ion scheme, France wants to introduce a new “general safeguard clause” that would allow the commission, the EU’s executive arm in charge of farm policy, to propose special measures to address future crises in agricultural markets.

Britain, Denmark and Sweden put a stronger emphasis in the debate on making the future CAP more market oriented, while Germany said the EU should phase out the use of export refunds, but added that market management instruments were the only way to combat future market crises.

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