Select Committee on European Communities Seventeenth Report


Letter from Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee, to the Lord Donoughue, Minister of Farming and the Food Industry, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food

  Sub-Committee D considered the proposals on prices for 1999-2000 at their meeting on 31 March and asked me to write to you on their behalf.

  The Sub-Committee noted with interest your comments on the sugar and sheepmeat regimes in paragraphs 11 to 13 of the explanatory memorandum to Volumes I and II of the proposals, and annexes 4 and 14 to the explanatory memorandum to Volume III of the proposals. Like you the Sub-Committee is concerned that the two regimes were omitted from the Agenda 2000 package and that the Commission does not propose to make any significant adjustments in this year's price-fixing proposals. The Sub-Committee therefore supports the Government's position, and would be grateful to be informed of the progress of negotiations.

  In the course of informing the Sub-Committee of any developments, it would be helpful if you could also say when the sugar and sheepmeat regimes are due to be next reformed.

14 April 1999

Letter from Lord Donoughue, Minister for Farming and the Food Industry, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, to Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee

  Thank you for your letter of 14 April advising me of your Committee's support of the Government's position on this year's agricultural price-fixing proposals.

  You asked to be kept informed of progress. The first discussion of the proposals took place at the Special Committee on Argiculture (SCA) on 26-27 April. As most of the proposals are uncontroversial, few Member States commented on them. As was indicated in the Explanatory Memorandum to Volume I of the proposals, the UK, joined by Sweden, called on the Commission to introduce a price cut of at least 5 per cent for sugar. The Commission, in response, asked for pragmatism. The main elements of the EU sugar regime will lapse on 1 July 2001 and the Council is required to agree successor arrangements by the end of next year. The UK would still, however, like to see a reduction in prices prior to reform.

  With regard to sheepmeat, there is no fixed date for reform. The UK did press for this to be included under the Agenda 2000 proposals since, with the adoption of the reforms to the beef and cereals regimes, the competitive price for sheepmeat is likely to be adversely affected. The Government continues to press for reform in this sector.

  The proposals will next be discussed in SCA after the May Agriculture Council, probably on 24-25 May, in preparation for decisions at the June Agriculture Council (14-15).

  I hope your Committee finds this information helpful.

18 May 1999

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