from Europe Issue 5/2003
AGRICULTURE STILL STRONG
the many set-backs Eastern Region farmers have suffered in recent times, it
is great to see that British agriculture is still thriving.
Suffolk Show, attended by about 90,000 people, offered an excellent display
of farm animals, agricultural produce, farm machinery and rural life.
Agricultural businesses in Suffolk continue to make a big contribution to
the economic and social life of the County. I am grateful to the Chief
Executive, Chris Bushby and my host, for the warm hospitality extended to
East of England Show in Peterborough was also spectacular. Apart from a wide
variety of displays, there were musical events suitable for families. I was
honoured to meet the Duke of Gloucester, who is a great patron of the Show.
Thank you also to the Chief Executive and my host, Steve Harris.
Norfolk Show also offered the public a good opportunity to see the wide
variety of crops grown in East Anglia and the range of food produced by
businesses in the Region. Thanks to John Purling, the Chief Executive, and
my host Peter Seaman, for their kind invitation and hospitality.
TERM REVIEW OF CAP
I am pleased to report that in response to my letter to Commissioner
Franz Fischler asking him to consider basing future farming compensation on
the growing period 2000-2002, so that fruit and vegetable growers would not
be excluded from receiving subsidy (see
In Touch Farming 2003) Fischler has said "...should Member States
continue to see the problem of
competitive disadvantage for producers of fruit and vegetables as
unavoidable, then the possibility of excluding the cultivation of fruit and
vegetables from the areas eligible for the Single Payment, would have to
This is obviously great news for
the many fruit and vegetable farmers who have filled my post-bag with
complaints that they would have been unfairly disadvantaged by the original
MTR proposals for CAP reform.
hosted and chaired an event at the John Innes Centre, Norwich, to give
farmers and members of the general public an opportunity to question a panel
of leading experts on the science of GMOs.
panel was made up of scientists from our academic and research institutions
such as the British Society of Plant Breeders, the NFU, Broom's Barn
Research Station, the John Innes Centre and the University of Cambridge. The
event was attended by over 90 delegates including conventional and organic
farmers, environmentalists and members of the public.
is a highly emotive subject, yet the debate produced a successful and
informative discussion and both participants and panellists left with a
better understanding of the issues associated with the introduction of GM
technology into farming.
thing remains clear, however - there are many misconceptions on both sides
of the debate and these will persist until the Government provides farmers
and consumers with more information based on science and the experience of
farmers in countries outside Europe, so that they can make informed
decisions on the subject of GMOs.
UK AND THE EURO
Treasury's recent analysis on non-compliance of Gordon Brown's Five
Economic Tests has been presented in millions of words on hundreds of tons
of paper. Yet interpretations of past data by economists cannot offer an
accurate prediction of how the UK economy will fare if it adopts the Euro
now, or at any time in the future. The Chancellor has no magic wand that
he can wave to determine when and for how long the UK economy will
"converge" with the economies of major countries like Germany
economies of the 12 Eurozone countries did not "meet" or
"converge" when they adopted the Euro. Belgium and Italy
continue to breach the maximum limits of public debt as a percentage of
GDP. Germany, suffering from high unemployment, would benefit from a lower
Euro interest rate. This same Euro interest rate is inflationary for
Ireland and Portugal. The significantly poorer and relatively unstable
economies of the ten new accession countries, also fail to meet the
criteria for joining the Eurozone, yet they will adopt the Euro soon after
they join in June 2004.
economic tests are presented as a smoke screen by Blair and Brown to buy
time to reach a political settlement. It seems that Blair will have his
Euro if he offers 10 Downing Street to Brown. The Euro will be a political
decision, driven by personal ambitions, made irrespective of British
interests. It will not be an economic assessment, but an historic
compromise of Blair and Brown that will abolish the pound, adopt the Euro
and irretrievably tie us to the European umbilical cord!
The UK, German, Irish and Danish Employment Ministers have blocked
damaging EU legislation from being implemented which could have cost the
UK 160,000 jobs.
The proposed legislation, which
was backed by Labour MEPs in the European Parliament and voted against by
Conservatives, would have laid down damaging rules giving agency temps the
same pay and conditions as permanent staff. This would have made
employment more expensive, restricted the labour market and undoubtedly
resulted in a huge rise in unemployment.
The Council's decision is great news for the thousands of British
employees, like students and parents, who rely on the flexibility of
temporary work as their main source of income.
EU FRAUD & MISMANAGEMENT
The UK's National Audit Office (NAO)- Britain's spending watchdog -
this month published a highly critical report on financial
management practices in Brussels, after the European Court of Auditors
declined for the eighth year in succession to pass the European Unionís
accounts as reliable.
NAO called on the European Commission for urgent action to deal with the
persistent weaknesses in its accounting systems following the Auditors
report, which found that
some 5,455 cases of fraud and irregularity, involving Ä516.7m of EU
money, were reported to the Commission by member states in 2001.
Commissioner Neil Kinnock has clearly failed to deliver on the mandate on
which he was appointed - to clean up the EU's accounts and stamp out gross
incidents of fraud. Mr Kinnock sacked Marta Andreasen, the only Chartered
Accountant ever to have been employed by the Commission. She was sacked
because she questioned the accounts and refused to approve them unless she
was given all the facts. Mr. Kinnock should have supported such a diligent
worker and he must re-instate her or resign for failing to answer to the
European taxpayers he was appointed to serve.
any future European Constitutional Treaty must empower elected MEPs to
question any EU official and secure access to any information. The
Commission continues to block MEPs from execution of their duties by
denying them access to vital information. Also, the New Treaty must alter
the role of the European Commission so that it no longer initiates
legislation. This power should be designated to elected MEPs in the
European Parliament. Until the EU realises such reform, it will remain
unaccountable and inefficient.
Promoted & Printed by Conservative MEPs in the EPP-ED Group in the European Parliament, Brussels: Khanbhai, Sturdy, Beazley & Van Orden