Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

Session 2003-04
22 October 2004 Committee publishes its report on Agriculture and EU Enlargement

22 October 2004 Committee publishes its report on Agriculture and EU Enlargement

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee has today published a report which examines how agriculture will be affected by the May 2004 enlargement of the European Union.

From the UK perspective, the Committee believes farmers should view EU enlargement more as a challenge than a threat. However, further assistance should be provided by the Government to help promote UK food exports and investments in the New Member States (NMS), so that the opportunities offered by an expanded EU can be realised.

The Committee concludes that some common weaknesses in the agricultural situations of the NMS could prevent them from benefiting fully from an enlarged marketplace for agricultural and food products. Although levels of farm support will generally be higher than in the transition period prior to accession, the competitive position of farmers in the NMS will suffer while they initially receive lower direct payments than their counterparts in the EU-15. It also remains to be seen whether institutional changes, designed to help the EU accommodate the NMS, will make further CAP reform harder to achieve.

For the sake of consumer confidence in the agri-food system of the EU, it is vital that enlargement does not lower standards of food safety. Discovery of sub-standard food in circulation on the single market would bring the whole system into disrepute. Lax safety standards in the NMS could undermine consumer confidence in all food products across the whole of the EU. Environmental concerns about agricultural intensification or abandonment and the impact of industrial scale animal production also deserve serious attention.



The report follows an inquiry announced on 31 October 2003 and conducted from February to April 2004.

The Committee received written evidence from a number of interested parties. The Committee took oral evidence from: Professor Secondo Tarditi; Professor Emil Erjavec; Professor Stefan Tangermann; the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, Slovenia; the Ministry of Agriculture, Slovak Republic; the National Farmers' Union; the Country Land and Business Association; the Food and Drink Federation; the Federation of the Food and Drink Industries of the Czech Republic; and Lord Whitty, Minister for Farming, Food and Sustainable Energy.

The full report will be available on our website from around 3.30 pm on 22 October, at www.parliament.uk/efracom