HC Deb 01 May 2002 vol 384 c784W
Mr. Spring

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Government's position is on the European Commission's phase-in proposals for the receipt by newly admitted member states of the European Union of(a) funds due under the Common Agricultural Policy and (b) structural funds. [51623]

Peter Hain

(a) The Government consider that agricultural spending should support restructuring in the candidate countries to modernise their agricultural economies. The Government therefore welcome the emphasis on rural development in the Commission's proposals as this is the most effective way to help new member states restructure agriculture sectors. As regards the proposal to phase in direct payments, the Government note the arguments provided in the Commission's issues paper about the damaging effects of high direct payments in the new member states. The Government consider it important to evaluate fully all relevant aspects, including whether other options may better help restructuring.

(b) The Government welcome the emphasis within the overall financing proposals on Structural and Cohesion Funds, to tackle the new member states' restructuring and developmental needs. The sums provided will need to respect the budget ceilings agreed at Berlin in 1999, as well as the needs and the absorption capacity of the new member states.