Memorandum submitted by Mr David Roberts,
Deputy Director-General, Directorate-General Agriculture, European
Commission (A 42)
I should like first to make clear the capacity
in which I am responding. I am an official of the European Commission
presently responsible for external trade issues relating to Agriculture.
As the Commission speaks for all member states in the World Trade
Organisation, I am also the Community spokesman in the current
WTO negotiations on Agriculture when these take place at official
level. When WTO negotiations on Agriculture take place at Ministerial
level, as they did recently in Doha, Commissioner Fischler speaks
for the Community.
Clearly, the outcome of the WTO negotiations
when it is reached will be relevant to the matters being studied
by your Committee, as this will set out the obligations which
the Community and all other members of the WTO will have to respect
in their agricultural support policies. Equally clearly, however,
you will recognise that as I am the Community official level negotiator
I cannot provide any detailed forecast of the likely outcome.
No negotiator would do that. For forecasts you must consult independent
commentators outside the Commission.
The Community's opening negotiating position
is, however, a matter of public record. Like other WTO members,
we set out our negotiating position in the form of a "comprehensive
proposal" during the opening phase of the negotiations. All
these proposals and other more detailed papers are available on
the WTO website (http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_agric_/negoti_.htm).
For convenience, however, I enclose a copy of the Community's
comprehensive proposal. 
I should stress that this is a Community paper, endorsed by 15
member states, not a Commission paper, although the Commission
services were, of course, instrumental in preparing a draft from
which the final paper was distilled after taking into account
the views of individual member states.
Since that proposal was submitted, the Doha
Ministerial Conference has subsumed the Agricultural negotiations,
which were mandated by the conclusions of the previous Round of
negotiations, into a comprehensive Round of Trade negotiations,
which are due to be concluded by the end of 2004. The Conference
also gave general guidance on the agenda and objectives for the
Agricultural negotiations. No doubt you already have a copy of
the Doha declaration but I nevertheless attach a copy [not printed]
of the paragraphs on agriculture. 
In broad terms, this paragraph confirms existing
agreed objectives for the long-term process of reforming the world
trading system as regards agriculture. It points to reducing production
distorting domestic support, which covers price support and production
linked subsidies; reducing, with a view to eliminating all forms
of export subsidies; and increasing access to markets. But the
declaration states explicitly that it does not prejudge the outcome
(in other words, it shows the direction of the changes but not
how big these changes will be).
The declaration gives special emphasis to the
need to provide special treatment to developing countries. It
also recognises that non-trade concerns covered by WTO members'
proposals will have to be taken into account. You will see from
the Community proposal that for us these include the two matters
of concerns to your Committee, rural development and the environment.
Given that these concerns have to be taken into account alongside
elements like extra access and reductions in production linked
support, the declaration implies an outcome under which these
objectives would need to be met more by non production linked
measures (Green Box measures) and less by production subsidies
and price support. But the degree to which this shift would need
to take place depends on the next stage of the negotiations.
Clearly these negotiations will form part of
the backdrop to the mid-term review, which is due to take place
next year. But the focus has to be on what, if any, changes are
needed to improve the current CAP in the light of the objective
set by Agenda 2000.
Preparation of the mid-term review falls outside
my responsibilities. And, in any event, it is important to be
clear that the Commission as such has not received any proposals
from my Commissioner with regard to this review. There is, therefore,
no Commission position on what it should propose to the Council
on this subject. As soon as it does agree on proposals, the Commission
will, of course, announce them but this is not foreseen until
next year. Mr Fischler has, however, made a number of public statements
about the sectors he envisages covering and where, at present,
he foresees the need for adjustments. These statements set out
his own reflections at this point in time. They only become formal
Commission policy when the review and any draft policy conclusions
have been completed, presented to the college of Commissioners
and approved by it for presentation to the Council.
Subject to this comment, let me summarise what
he told the Agriculture Committee of the European Parliament on
the mid-term review when he met them shortly after the Doha Conference.
He foresaw the review covering:
(a) Cereals, where he pointed to a rather
satisfactory current situation for most crops except rye where
there is a problem of increasing stocks.
(b) Oilseeds, where he referred to suggestions
that we should produce more soya in Europe but pointed out that,
in most of Europe, conditions are more suitable for cereals. He
pointed out, however, that if the Commission initiative for the
incorporation of bio fuels was adopted this would create an additional
incentive for EU growers and to the need to respect that condition
if the so-called Blair House Agreement, which now forms part of
our WTO obligations, involves a limit on the area we can support
with crop specific payments.
(c) Beef, where he drew attention to the
market disequilibrium created by the BSE crisis and the need to
take into account likely reductions in our possibility to apply
(d) Milk, which he considered needed to be
examined during the mid-term review given the link between this
sector and the beef sector. He recalled that Heads of Government,
in the context of Agenda 2000 had extended the quota regime until
2008 and agreed on price reductions starting from 2005-06. Coupled
with positive market developments, this suggested a rather favourable
outlook at present for market balance but we do need to take account
of the impact of the kind of changes foreseen in the Doha declaration;
(e) Rural Development, where he foresaw the
need for a further shift of resources from market measures towards
the so-called second pillar, ie essentially green box measures
for promoting rural development and sustainability.
I hope the above information will be of use
to your Committee.
Mr David Roberts
Deputy Director General
19 December 2001
1 Council of the European Union Document 13656/00
"WTO negotiations on agriculture: outline of the EC comprehensive
negotiating proposal"-Conclusions of the Agriculture Council
20-21 November 2000. Back
Doha WTO Ministerial declaration adopted on 14 November 2001,
paragraphs 13-14. Back