Select Committee on European Communities Eighth Report


18 May 1999

By the Select Committee appointed to consider Community proposals, whether in draft or otherwise, to obtain all necessary information about them, and to make reports on those which, in the opinion of the Committee, raise important questions of policy or principle, and on other questions to which the Committee considers that the special attention of the House should be drawn.





1.  The latest proposals to reform the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) were made by the European Commission in 1997. They were part of the Agenda 2000 package which also aimed to reform the structural and cohesion funds and set the financial framework for the period 2000-2006. The purpose of the reforms was to fit the EU for the challenges of the next century, in particular enlargement. After protracted negotiations the Agriculture Council reached an agreement on 11 March this year, but this agriculture deal was substantially modified at the Berlin European summit on 24-25 March, where the other elements of the Agenda 2000 package were also settled.

2.  This Committee has long urged that European agriculture should become more market-orientated, and that measures to enhance the environment and promote rural development should be evaluated and applied in their own right, not bolted on to production-support regimes which have ceased to perform any useful purpose[1]. We therefore wish to draw the terms of the deal to the attention of the House, and make a brief initial evaluation of it. This is a short report. The Committee's Sub-Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Food thought that the reform deal was sufficiently important to interrupt its enquiry into organic farming and hold a one-off meeting with Lord Donoughue, Parliamentary Secretary (Lords) and Miss Kate Timms, Head of Agricultural Crops and Commodities Directorate, Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food, on 28 April. We are grateful for their assistance. Contrary to normal practice, we did not have time to seek written evidence, or hold other evidence sessions. This report is therefore based on the 28 April meeting with the Minister, what we have learnt during our own enquiries into Agenda 2000, and the mass of other information produced during the lengthy Agenda 2000 negotiations. Chapter 2 discusses the Commission's original proposals, and what was eventually agreed by Member States. The Commission's proposals, and the terms of the final deal, are set out in Appendix 2. The Committee's evaluation of the deal is set out in Chapter 3.

1   Most recently in CAP Reform in Agenda 2000 - The Transition to Competition: Measures for Rural Development and the Rural Environment (18th Report, Session 1997-98, HL Paper 84). See also, for example, Development and Future of the Common Agricultural Policy (16th Report, Session 1990-91, HL Paper 79-I) and Enlargement and the Common Agricultural Policy (12th Report, Session 1995-96, HL Paper 92). Back

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