Friday, January 14, 2011

Spelman hits raw nerve with Ciolos

The speech by Defra secretary of state Caroline Spelman has clearly hit a raw nerve with farm commissioner Dacian Ciolos: Ciolos

In essence what Ciolos is saying is that this was a speech made for domestic consumption, but it will cut no ice in Europe. Depressingly, he is probably right, but the secretary of state was still right to set out her stall. She may be able to have some impact on the details of any deal, particularly when the budget dimension is brought into play.

Once again food shortages and volatile prices are in the news. If nothing else, this is a case for doing something about the high tariff barriers which surround the EU in the food area, particularly on so-called 'sensitive' products. If developing countries could get more access to developed markets, they would be incentivised to move towards more commercial agricultures which would feed more people both at home and abroad.

There are, of course, a lot of complex issues here and there are undoubtedly some areas of the world where improving semi-subsistence agriculture is the best way forward. But no one is going to become genuinely prosperous that way.

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