France's agriculture minister Bruno Le Maire has used the E.Coli outbreak in Germany to defend spending on the CAP. Pointing out that 17 people had died, he commented, 'I too would like us to be able to cut the budget [Really?], but we will have to explain to consumers that we will also have to cut back the sanitary controls that are partly paid for the common agricultural policy ... at a time when we are facing a big sanitary crisis.'
Mr Le Maire, who may become finance minister of Christine Lagarde goes to the IMF, called on member states to make a 'courageous and responsible decision' in negotiations over the budget for the CAP after 2013. In other words, minimal cuts.
This really is a presposterous and obnoxious piece of shroud waving. It would be perfectly possible to decide to maintain sanitary and phytosanitary spending whilst reducing the SFP.
Who compensates farmers and to what extent for the economic consequences of the E.coli scare remains to be seen. The amount available from the CAP has been topped up, but the question is how much cash strapped member state governments can afford, not least in Spain.
The German agriculture minister does not come out of this well. First, Germany went in to 'Club Med' mode, blaming it all on poor Spanish hygiene. Subsequently they have been unable to definitively identify the source of the outbreak.