Britain calls for cuts to EU farm subsidies
Britain has sent detailed list of EU failures to reform its agriculture budget to the European Commission as an opening shot in a looming battle over farm subsidies and the British rebate.
The UK's agriculture minister called for substantial cuts to the European Union's farming subsidies program at a time when many of the bloc's member states are facing economic hardship.
In a response to proposed reforms to the €55 billion scheme, Caroline Spelman said in a letter to EU farm commissioner Dacian Ciolos that the subsidies should face the same "hard choices being made elsewhere in the EU."
EU officials have put forward a paper of plans to reform the controversial Common Agricultural Policy from 2014. But the proposals contain no details of any cut to the size of the payments given to farmers.
French farmers benefit the most
The cost of CAP has been estimated to cost the average British family over €400 a year with benefits mainly going to French farmers who take the lion's share of the EU subsidies.
"There must be a very substantial cut to the CAP budget in the next financial framework," the letter said. "We also want to see reform of trade-distorting elements of the CAP, particularly with respect to subsidies."
The letter comes as the EU Commission released figures showing that 80% of beneficiaries received around 20% of the direct payments in 2009 in the EU group of 12.
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