Sweden Calls on EU to Abolish All Farm Subsidies

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Sweden’s Agriculture Minister Eskil Erlandsson said the government has submitted a report to the European Commission in Brussels calling for an end to all EU farm subsidies, according to reports from Swedish news agency TT and The Local.

The proposal is the centre right government’s submission for the EU’s new European agriculture policy, which is due to be launched in 2013.

The idea of completely abolishing farm subsidies, leaving a fully market-oriented farming sector, is sure to be controversial, particularly in France where successive governments have stymied British attempts to trim agricultural subsidies for years.

‘We are the first country in the EU to propose this,’ said Erlandsson at a press conference today.

Sweden wants export subsidies, intervention subsidies and production subsidies to be phased out completely, leaving only subsidies for environmental protection. The proposed system would closely resemble the system in place in Sweden before the country joined the European Union.

Erlandsson said that producers, consumers and politicians were ‘for the most part’ united on the issue. However France, Greece and Poland are thought likely to oppose the suggestion.

‘We are currently trying to attract allies, and right now they are found among our neighbours in northern Europe – Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and the UK,’ the minister said.

Agriculture subsidies account for 40 pct of the EU budget. Erlandsson did not specify what his proposals would do to this figure.

The reforms would be made possible, Erlandsson said, by high market prices. This was due to increased demand for both energy and food. The price of grain has increased by 35 pct in the past year.

‘We expect continued high market prices, and this means that the subsidies can be removed,’ he said.