Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Blow for farm policy reformers

CAP reformers have used the publication of detailed figures about who gets what under the farm policy to draw attention to the extent to which big companies and large-scale farmers are beneficiaries.

However, the drive for more transparency suffered a setback yesteday after the European Court of Justice ruled that publication of databases listing recipients of agricultural subsidies breached farmers' human rights. The ECJ struck down rules that make it compulsory for member states to identify all recipients of CAP money.

The court sided with German farmers behind the action. They argued that publishing the name, address and details of how much money an individual received on a website did not strike the right balance between promoting transparency and the beneficiary's right to privacy. Governments will no longer be able to list individual recipients of public money, but companies listing funds should still be listed.

Jack Thurston of farmsubsidy.org, who has campaigned for the information to be made readily available, argued that disclosure of information was an important check against fraud and abuse, a perennial problem with the CAP. He commented that the decision went 'against the tide of public opinion, which is for ever more transparency and more accountability.'

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