Home .International Trade Time to cut princely subsidies
Time to cut princely subsidies
Tuesday, 17 March 2009 14:02

The French are probably the strongest supporters of agricultural protection in Europe through the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP).  For them, the CAP is a way of protecting their traditional agricultural lifestyle, their beautiful countryside and all what is distinctive about France. 

I do not imagine that they have read reports by the OECD and other organisations which show that poor, small farmers receive in fact very little of the CAP subsidies.  The wealthiest 20% of farmers in Europe receive 80% of the subsidies. 

Further, I doubt that many of our French republican friends read the flurry of press articles in 2005 indicating that royalty and lots of other hoy paloy received large amounts of CAP subsidies (following a report by the French think tank, GEM).  All the articles that I read were of course in the reliable British press.  Let's go back and have a look at them.

According to Oxfam (reported in The Independent), in 2004 Prince Albert of Monaco (His Sereine Highness!) received 287,000 euros under the CAP.  The subsidy was for a cereal farm of around 700 hectares which is believed to be in northern France.

But it is not only the continentals who have their hand in the till.  According to the Times On-line, Queen Elizabeth II received 546,000 pounds sterling in 2004, while the Prince of Wales received 225,000 pounds sterling. 

The Times also had some other juicy figures.  Remy Pointereau, a French senator, received 121,000 euros, and Luc Guyau, an ally of President Chirac, received 50,000 euros. 

And the beat goes on.  Cees Veerman, the Dutch Agriculture Minister, received 168,000 euros for farms in France and 22,000 euros for farms in the Netherlands.  In Denmark, four out of 18 Cabinet ministers received money from the CAP, as did the husband of Mariann Fischer Boel, the EU Farm Commissioner.

But at the end of the day, it's the French who take the cake.  They receive almost twice as much direct subsidies for their farmers than any other EU member.

The reason why I dug up this old story is twofold.  It should never disappear until this nonsense is stopped.  The CAP swallows up a full 40% of the EU budget!  And right now, with the global financial crisis, is the right time to stop these princely subsidies and use the money usefully on the poor people who are suffering from the crisis. 

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