The European Commission is being urged to increase the money available to a proposed promotional budget, designed to help EU food producers market their products; the European Parliament wants the sector to be compensated for the likely loss of export refunds as a result of the WTO agricultural round. MEPs have backed a motion calling for changes to a regulation "on information provision and promotion for agricultural products on the internal market," so that the EU is urged "to make maximum use of the scope for promotional policies under WTO rules." They also called for particular campaigns to last for two years, not three years, as in the current proposal.

Measures that could be funded by the budget would include the provision of consumer information, emphasising aspects such as quality, health benefits, animal welfare and organic production. This would be carried out by market research and PR work, participation in trade fairs and exhibitions and impact assessments.

By Keith Nuthall, correspondent