Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2002-03-14-Speech-4-016"

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"Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, in this proposal, the Commission is seeking to amend the basic regulation on the common organisation of the market in tobacco (Regulation (EEC) 2075/92), fixing the premiums and guarantee thresholds for leaf tobacco by variety group and Member State for the 2002, 2003 and 2004 harvests. On this basis, one might assume that the Commission proposal is of a fundamentally technical nature and is confined to adapting the main instruments of support for tobacco production, in accordance with changes in supply and demand in the market. Furthermore, this adjustment is made necessary by the current arrangements, since producers must be notified about quotas before 15 April and the relevant contracts be drawn up before 30 May. Nevertheless, with the excuse that Regulation (EEC) 2075/92 needs technical updating, the proposal goes much farther. In fact, it indirectly introduces a reform of a much broader political scope and goes so far as to set the phasing out of tobacco subsidies as the ultimate objective (see recital 5). In doing this, the Commission is in actual fact determining the scope of the decisions which have been proposed and which, in due course and subject to the relevant proposals, will have to be taken by the Community institutions. There are two reasons for this: first of all, the Commission launched an evaluation study of the COM in raw tobacco, which should enable an assessment to be made of the effects of current Community policy on the sector, and its conclusions will only be available at the end of 2002; secondly, it was the Commission itself that undertook to submit proposals on the new tobacco policy at the beginning of next year, but only on the basis of the studies that are now being carried out. Of course, this proposal will have to be consistent with society's growing demands for sustainable development and high-quality products and, in the same context, must provide an adequate response to the official statements issued hitherto concerning the sector’s future. Your rapporteur is of the view that the European Parliament cannot allow the Commission to pre-empt and make assumptions about the decisions that both the European Parliament and the Council will be taking in the coming months, on the basis of the evaluation studies and the latest data recorded in this sector, which I have already mentioned. In this context, the rapporteur's amendments are confined to improving the Commission's proposals in an essentially technical way and explicitly rule out the possibility of entering into a far-reaching political debate on the future support arrangements for tobacco, which can only be tackled rigorously during 2003, taking into account the studies and reports mentioned above. It must be considered, however, that this position of the rapporteur does not simply mean accepting the which, furthermore, he feels is unsustainable. To this end, the rapporteur tabled Amendment No 23, in order to regain the original spirit of commitment towards the Community Tobacco Fund. This amendment has two implications: firstly, not only accepting financing by the Fund of actions to prevent nicotine addiction and of experimental action to encourage tobacco producers to switch to other crops and economic activities, but also maintaining the financing of agronomic research into varieties of tobacco that are less damaging to the environment and to health; and, secondly, increasing the levy on producers’ premiums from 2% to 3%, thereby rejecting both the present figure of 2%, and the Commission’s proposal of 5%. And, in order to ensure consistency with this vision of commitment, the rapporteur proposes that we also reject Amendments Nos 9 and 13. The around 130 thousand tobacco producers in the European Union, most of whom live in the least-favoured regions of southern Europe, deserve to have the competent Community institutions concern themselves, in a responsible way, with their future. Hence, also, the importance of having sufficient evaluation and impact studies of the current situation so that we can make responsible and realistic proposals for the future, but only once we know exactly what the effects of the current policy are."@en1

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