Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2003-09-24-Speech-3-241"

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"Madam President, unlike in the past, agriculture was not the reason why these negotiations failed. In my view, their failure was due to the maximalist stance of the Group of 21, which came to the negotiating table with questions which went beyond the Doha Agenda. The most striking of these was the demand for the phasing-out of the domestic aid believed to cause the most distortion, namely the blue and amber boxes. For the first time, the European Union adopted an assertive stance, with which it seemed rather comfortable. This was due to the CAP reform it has carried out, and the agreement it has concluded with the United States of America. Sadly, though, the Group of 21 did not recognise the European Union’s efforts to adapt its agricultural policy. This group still insists on talking as if the CAP had not changed in the last ten years. The CAP has changed radically in that time, but they still talk as if the European Union were a protectionist wall, ignoring the fact that the EU is the largest importer of agricultural produce in the world today. Perhaps the group of African countries which, perhaps legitimately, dug in their heels to defend cotton, had forgotten that the European Union as a bloc has tried harder than anyone to support developing countries. Today’s EU market, moreover, takes in 85% of those countries’ agricultural exports. Furthermore, the voices of the world’s poorest countries, which enjoy completely free access to our markets as a result of the ‘Everything but Arms’ initiative, were not even heard. This was because they were completely drowned out by countries which also claim to be underdeveloped but whose interests are fundamentally different from, or even opposed to, the interests of these poorest countries. We must not, I feel, be masochistic. The European Union took a very reasonable stance in these negotiations and behaved generously towards less-developed countries. It could go further, of course. I can say in all conscience, however, that if everyone had adopted the same flexible, responsible stance as the European Union there, an agreement would have been reached."@en1

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