§ Miss Emma Nicholson
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the outcome of the Council of Agriculture Ministers' meeting held in Luxembourg on 19–20 October 1987; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. MacGregor
The Council considered further the Commission's proposals for the important and necessary changes in the support arrangements — the so-called "stabilisers"—to bring costs under much better control. After a discussion on general principles at the September Council, this Council meeting began the task of considering the proposals for individual commodities in specific terms. I made clear that, for the stabilisers to be effective, it was essential to take decisions on details and not just on framework mechanisms in advance of the December meeting of the European Council, and I emphasised to my agricultural colleagues the urgency of their reaching agreement on this.
The Council had a first debate on related Commission proposals for income aids to mitigate the effect of stricter price policy for farmers with relatively low incomes. Most member states, including ourselves, had substantial reservations on the present proposals.
Finally, the Council achieved a reconciliation with the European Parliament on the details of a regulation which will change the system whereby the Commission reimburses member states for EAGGF expenditure, from monthly advances to payments in arrears. This change will strengthen control over Community expenditure and help to contain 1987 expenditure within the budget provision.