EU farm ministers agree "integration" paper

Agriculture Council finds few new initiatives possible to green Europe's farming

EU agriculture ministers have finalised a report on the integration of environmental concerns into farm policies to be submitted to EU heads of government next month. Agreed at this week's meeting of the Agriculture Council, the document concentrates mainly on existing measures to take environmental concerns into account in Europe's farming policy and suggests only two new ideas. The EU should contribute actively to an existing OECD project to develop agro-environmental indicators, the document says, in order to follow progress in implementing environmental integration and sustainable development. The Council also "considers it desirable" to regularly assess the effectiveness of environmental integration into the common agriculture policy. Ministers say they are "more than ever determined" to achieve a closer integration of market, rural development and environmental policies, and stress that greater weight will be given to environmental considerations as the CAP is reformed in the context of the European Commission's Agenda 2000 proposals. The Council warns, finally, of a need for "firm action" at international level to ensure that greater environmental integration in EU agriculture does not "handicap" European farmers.

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