Proposals to set up a special EU fund to help pig farmers weather the storms of the unstable European market for their product have been given short shrift by the EU Council of Ministers, which has decided unanimously to look into new ways of dealing with the problem.

The European Commission has announced that it “regrets this very much,” claiming that it had tried to pitch its proposal in the middle ground of opinion within the council, which represents EU Member States. “The proposal…offers…a legal basis to the farmers to protect themselves by private initiative…from losses of income in future crises and this without additional costs for the EU-budget,” said agriculture commissioner Franz Fischler.

By Keith Nuthall, correspondent