Franz Fischler, the EU’s Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries, has urged ministers to take “courageous decisions” to reform the tobacco, cotton, olive oil and hops support systems.

“I hope that the council will take the necessary reform decisions, in the interest of farmers, consumers and the environment. The status quo is definitely not an option,” Fischler said ahead of this week’s Agriculture Council meeting in Luxembourg.

On the subject of olive oil, Fischler said the oil is a European quality product with a bright future.

“The reform would result in better market orientation of the olive sector, more stable income for farmers, increasing transparency and more value for consumers,” he added.

In September 2003 the European Commission put forward proposals for a fundamental reform of the common market organisations (CMO) for olive oil, raw tobacco and cotton in line with the reform of the common agricultural policy (CAP). For these three sectors, it is proposed to transfer a significant part of the current production-linked payments to the decoupled single farm payment scheme, the key feature of the future CAP.

In the olive oil sector, 60% of the production-linked payments for the reference period would be converted into new entitlements to the single farm payment scheme. Member States would retain the rest for the granting of an additional direct payment for low output and marginal olive groves and for olive groves with environmental and traditional value as well as for quality policy.

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