HC Deb 06 June 1995 vol 261 c3W
Mrs. Angela Knight

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the outcome of the Agriculture Council held in Brussels on 29 and 30 May; and if he will make a statement. [26961]

Mr. Waldegrave

This meeting of the Council, at which I represented the United Kingdom, concentrated mainly on a proposal from the Commission for changes to the agri-monetary arrangements and on rules for the welfare of animals in transport.

No decisions were reached. The Council will return to both subjects at its next meeting on 19 and 20 June, when it will also aim to decide farm prices and related measures for 1995–96.

The Commission's proposal on agri-money would reduce the cost and scope of the compensatory measures accompanying any green rate revaluation that took place in 1995. It is the present rules on compensation which have led the Council and Commission to delay green rate revaluations that should have taken place, resulting in distortion of trade and excessive levels of support in the Community as a whole. I strongly supported the Commission's proposal. The German Minister, with some support from others, suggested alternative changes that would lead to permanent differences in payments to farmers in different member states. I made it clear that this would be wholly unacceptable.

The discussion on animal transport showed that member states are broadly agreed on the main lines of new arrangements, but still differ on the key questions of maximum journey times and the length of breaks between journeys. I welcomed the assurance from the French presidency that it gives high priority to this issue, and urged all parties to make great efforts to reach an agreement in June.

The Council formally adopted by majority vote, with Germans and Netherlands opposing, the measures necessary to implement the compromise decision on Italian, Spanish and Greek milk quotas, reached at the October meeting of the Economic and Finance Council. It also adopted unanimously a proposal fixing support prices for certain fruits and vegetables for June 1995.