Blog: Didn't they tell Gordon?

Catherine Sleep | 29 June 2005

UK chancellor of the exchequer Gordon Brown is going to accuse European Union leaders of hypocrisy for ‘not reforming’ the Common Agricultural Policy, according to the BBC.

The British government’s pronouncements on the CAP are getting increasingly bizarre. The CAP just got reformed, the latest in a long line of changes stretching back to the early 1990s. British farmers are struggling to come to terms with the new ‘Single Farm Payment’ system, designed to decouple production from subsidy. According to one grain trader I spoke to recently that’s liable to knock a million tonnes off UK cereal production.

The proposals for sugar, the last major part of the reform jigsaw to be put into place, were published recently.

But no-one, apparently, has told Gordon about any of this. Or, indeed, his boss Tony Blair. The UK government was invited to all the meetings. Weren’t they listening?

European farm policy does cost a large chunk of the EU’s budget. But it is the only major area of policy that is run at European Level, so of course it’s the biggest thing the EU spends money on. If the EU were running our schools, they would no doubt be the biggest item of spending.

Meanwhile UK politicians choose to rant about farm reform and trot out old and inaccurate stereotypes about ‘inefficient French farmers,” to please the tabloid press.

France has some of the most efficient farmers in the world. Gordon Brown should hesitate before he accuses anyone else of hypocrisy.

Chris Lyddon

News Editor,


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