§ Mr. Boswell
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the outcome of the Agriculture Council in Brussels on 13 and 14 February; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. MacGregor
I attended this meeting, together with my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary.
The Council discussed the Commission's proposals on farm support prices and related measues for 1989–90. The discussion was limited to an initial exchange of views, and the Council will return to these questions at its March meetings.
During the discussion, I took the opportunity to urge the need to combat the fraudulent use of funds under the common agricultral policy, to which the Commission had referred in bringing forward its proposals on farm prices. I pressed the Commission to make specific proposals in this area, on which member states could then take action; and I called for systematic follow-up to reports from the European Court of Auditors.267W
The Council agreed, subject to the opinion of the European Parliament, an amendment to its measure, adopted last year, for payments to farmers who extensify their production. The amendment, for which I had pressed on practical grounds, will enable member states to operate these arrangements on a pilot basis until the end of 1990.