§ Mr. Knapman
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the outcome of the Agriculture Council held in Brussels on 15 and 16 July.
§ Mr. Gummer
I represented the United Kingdom at this meeting together with the Parliamentary Secretary, my hon. Friend the Member for Skipton and Ripon (Mr. Curry).
Discussion concentrated on the Commission's proposals for major adaptations to the common agricultural policy. I welcomed the prospect of reform and reminded the Council that the United Kingdom was wholly committed in its support for radical change in the CAP. However, I also emphasised that the main thrust of these 166W proposals was disappointing in that they do not constitute a long-term policy for encouraging efficient farming in the Community, are certain to be very costly and involve substantial discrimination between different producers and member states. Furthermore, the environmental element of the CAP would still be an add-on extra rather than a central theme. The Council is expected to resume these discussions at its next meeting in September.
In a discussion on the GATT round I emphasised the need for the Community to take the initiative immediately with a view to achieving an overall solution well before the end of this year.
I also stressed the continued need to protect United Kingdom producers of soft fruit from low-priced processed imports from eastern Europe. The Commissioner agreed to extend the present safeguards until 25 September.