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“Me Too”: EU Ambassador Agrees On Shelving The CAP War

  • May 14th, 2011
  • Posted by EUEditor

david-daly-2-reduced2.jpgThe European Union’s Ambassador to Australia, David Daley, has echoed his Australian counterpart in Brussels, in pronouncing the final end of conflict over trade in agriculture.

OLD ANTAGONISMS AND “EURO SCEPTICISM”

nelson_brendan-reduced.jpgLast month the Australian Ambassador, Brendan Nelson, said that agricultural issues were taking only 5% of his time, since the long-running disputes over the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the EU had died down.

He said the old antagonisms and “Euro-scepticism” promoted in the political community were fast being eclipsed by closer relations worked out at diplomatic level.

See EUAustralia Online, “Shake-up in Australia EU Links”, 2.4.11

On Wednesday (5.11.11) Ambassador Daley pronounced the CAP dead as a bone of contention, because of the changes which had moved its emphasis away from farm subsidies based on production, to more generalised industry and regional assistance.

He told a business gathering in Brisbane, “we have put behind us 30 years of arguing over agricultural policy.”

“With reform of agricultural policy over the last 20 years, it is now considered by the World Trade Organisation as 90% non trade distorting; it no longer dominates the whole dialogue.

LIKE-MINDED PARTNERS

“We are now discovering ourselves, with our different roles…”, he said.

“The EU recognises the Australian voice, of like-minded partners espousing the same basic or fundamental values we espouse …

“Many challenges are global, demanding global responses, hence you work with partners – who should be like-minded.”

He said he shared the idea of working together on key global issues with Dr Nelson.

“We are working on this joint project”.

PERSISTENT MISUNDERSTANDINGS

Mr Daley said there would be persistent misunderstandings about the way the European Union had grown and become more bound together as one entity.

The 27 member countries operating together under their combined rules for trade policy and commerce made up Australia’s most important partner in trade and investment, with 35% of foreign investment in Australia from the EU; and the EU still the second most important trade partner, edged out of first place by China in 2010.

“People are still not used to thinking of us together”, he said.

SOLIDARITY, AND ECONOMIC CRISIS

However the 27 states which had voluntarily joined together, had been expanding the number of areas of common action, moving now to adopt a stronger single voice on foreign policy in world affairs.

The economic crisis of the last three years was being misinterpreted, he said, as a break-down or failure of the EU, but its solidarity and preparedness for future shocks had actually been strengthened.

“Don’t be alarmed or subscribe to belief it is a failure of the whole EU, because that would be misleading”, he said.

Reassuring progress had been made in the period of recovery from the time of the financial crisis when the world had been staring economic collapse in the face.

Most member countries had been achieving new growth of around 2%, with 7.5% in Sweden, and 4% in Germany and Poland.

At the same time, some remained in recession – most notably Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

NEW CRISIS IN GREECE

The Ambassador was speaking as a new crisis loomed for Greece, with open talk of a possible default in national debt payments if further access to relief funds could not be got.

Employee groups in the country had no doubts that things were still bad, mobilising fresh protests against jobs cutbacks in the main cities – 30000 in sometimes angry scenes in Athens by Friday.

My Daley said the EU member states had put money into the first temporary relief fund, making money available to the Greek government at cheaper rates, as an act of solidarity.

That had been done as the world financial crisis had forced a realisation, that during good years, not enough attention had been paid to critically important issues, like the sovereign debt of national governments.

ALL IN THIS TOGETHER

“The point has been taken at the highest levels of the EU”, he said.

“The European Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso, has said: there is no solidarity without stability, and no stability without solidarity.

“Put another way, we are all in this together.”

The crisis in Greece had been followed by the establishment of a major temporary fund, of EU 500-billion, for three years – ahead of the new support systems being put in place now, for the longer term.

The fund had been created very quickly; Ireland and Portugal had drawn on it already, and while it was hoped other states would not need it, it was important to have the joint support in place.

POLITICAL REALITIES

Certain political realities were making that difficult, like “very simplistic” arguments that German taxpayers did not want to pay for Greece.

Leaders in some of the Member governments were complaining about too much interference in their implementation of policies they had agreed to.

“Openness” was needed in dealing with that, such as telling how “we are so interconnected”; in Europe “everything is interconnected now, everybody to everybody else”, he said.

That extended to the new “European semester”, a review process where national governments would submit their economic plans in Brussels for detailed scrutiny by the other states, and the European Institutions.

Lip service had been paid to the system in the past, for ensuring that policies stayed in lines with commitments made by the governments themselves.

It had now become rigorous, with as part of the process, sanctions or fines when a country “had an imbalance” or was “consistently ignoring recommendations”.

For more control with such decisions, the executive Commission had gone further, asking for a reading of the rules on majority voting in the European Council, so that a reverse majority would be needed, actually to block the imposition of sanctions.

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