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France fears EU to crop farming aid

03.10.12 | News

The last working document published by the EU's Cypriot presidency has sparked fears in France that the new EU budget will slash direct subsidies to farmers, despite the country's firm opposition, EurActiv.fr reports.

October will mark the second year of formal negotiations for a new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). France, the largest beneficiary of the CAP, has battled since the beginning for a budget identical to that of 2013 for each year of the period 2014-2020.

The lack of clarity in recent budget negotiations had offered the country a ray of hope.

But to French chagrin, the Cypriot paper hinted it might revise the budget for subsidies downwards.

"The presidency remains convinced that it is inevitable that the total level of spending proposed by the Commission, including the internal elements as well as the external elements of the Multi-annual Financial Framework 2014-2020, will be revised downwards", the document said.

Keeping agriculture intact would therefore present difficulties, since it currently receives the largest slice of EU funds.

The French minister for European affairs, Bernard Cazeneuve, admitted as much on 24 September, suggesting the fate of the EU budget could not be separated from that of national budgets.

Cazeneuve expressed his "great unhappiness" at reading the paragraph (52) which makes reference to a fall in agriculture subsidies, while not specifing by how much: "The average amount of EU direct payments per hectare will be reduced by [X% to Y%] per year from fiscal 2015 to fiscal 2020", the document says.