Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2000-09-20-Speech-3-140"

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"Mr President, the Commission’s proposal to reduce refunds for processed agricultural products and to make inward processing easier carries considerable risks. I shall highlight just three of them. The first is that this proposal is not driven so much by the restrictions imposed by the WTO, but particularly by the well-known budget restrictions currently being applied in the European Union, specifically due to the need to reallocate means and resources to commitments that the Union has given in the field of external affairs, notably Kosovo. These objectives are not under threat. They will have to be addressed in a transparent way during the major debates on the European Union’s options. What is not acceptable is that little more than a year ago, the Financial Perspectives up to 2007 were approved, and now, a few months later, resources that had been earmarked for agriculture are being withdrawn. The second risk is that the increasing use of inward processing could put us in the extremely dangerous situation of no longer producing many agricultural products within the European Union, since it would be more profitable to import them in their raw state, process them and re-export them. Only a few sections of society would benefit from this and it would spell disaster for agricultural communities. In the long term, the European Union’s dependence on external supplies in a sector as strategically important as food production would make the Union as a whole extremely vulnerable. It would therefore be a foolish mistake to think that the practice of inward processing could be a lasting solution. The third risk relates to our negotiating strategy for the Millennium Round. This week, the Commission has approved a document on the competitiveness of our exports, which reveals its fundamental position on the various types of export aid. The Commission’s position is quite clear: the European Union will not in future accept reductions, within the WTO, only in support for export refunds – there will also have to be reductions in all types of support provided by our main competitors in the international markets, ranging from export credits to food aid and state-run businesses. All this will have to be "put on the table" and reduced under the GATT rules. The European Union’s stance on this issue is totally correct: all types of aid which have a similar effect must come under the WTO rules, not only the refund system used by the European Union. It is in this context of external pressure that the European Union is applying in the framework of the GATT, that is, the WTO negotiations, that it seems to be a mistake to have presented this proposal at this time. To conclude, I should simply like to thank Mr Souchet for the tremendous job he has done, which we greatly appreciate."@en1

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