I have been asked to stand in for my colleague Mr. Agnew. You may be relieved to note his absence, but I shall do my best to fill the gap.
You have only six months, Mr. Coveney, to improve this dog’s breakfast of a CAP reform proposal.
Where is the simplification? Promised, given as an objective, but now lost without trace.
Where is the reduction in red tape? We have complex rules surrounding Ecological Focus Areas, and differentiating land managers from farmers, and allowing double-funding from taxpayers’ money. How does this make life simpler, or more transparent?
This is not really a reform at all. It is more of the same — but worse. And most disgraceful of all is M. Dantin’s crude, protectionist anti-market stitch-up, epitomised by his plans for sugar.
Mr. Coveney, Chairman: UK and European consumers are paying nearly double the price they might for their sugar. Jobs in the UK, and at other cane refineries in the EU, will be lost.
Mr. Agnew specifically asked me to raise — as he has done many times — the issue of the British company Tate & Lyle.
Mr. Agnew says that crucial questions he tabled on sugar reform on November 28th last year remain unanswered. Will you please ensure that these issues are addressed promptly?
The proposals before us today do nothing to solve these problems.
At a time when food prices are rising, these proposals represent protectionist mis-management of the market, inflicted on the EU, and the UK, for a further decade.
I call on you, Mr. Coveney, to use your Presidency to bring some common sense to the reform:
To ensure that, at a time of rising prices and forecasts of food shortages, farmers are not held back by unjustified and perverse “greening” incentives;
And ensure that hard-working people in my country, and the seven other member-states with cane refineries, do not lose their jobs to old-fashioned protectionism.
I look forward to your response.