Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas outlining his vision of Europe at the LSE
Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas (Civic Democrat, ODS) has demanded a far reaching overhaul of the EU’s budget and in particular the excessive spending on support for farmers and poorer regions.
“I don’t want to maintain that the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and cohesion policy should be completely scrapped, but given new circumstances they should be radically reformed,” Nečas said late Wednesday in a speech devoted to EU reform and promoting European growth at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).
Nečas said generous payments under both programs were in many circumstances a poisoned chalice. “Instead of improving the competitiveness of targeted countries, some of this money is devoted to profligate projects. Sometimes this leads to the deformation of otherwise functioning industrial sectors or distracts attention and financial means from real problems.”
‘I don’t want to maintain that the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and cohesion policy should be completely scrapped, but given new circumstances they should be radically reformed.’
Cohesion support should be narrowed down to the most needy regions and only for projects which will encourage their economic growth and competitiveness, he added. “We should no longer allow the construction of highways going from nowhere to nowhere or maintain uncompetitive European farmers in order that they grow subsidized food which we then buy and distribute to Europe’s poor,” he added.
The Czech PM said that extra terrestrials would have the impression that Europe’s farm sector accounted for around 40 percent of the EU’s output if they looked at the support devoted to agriculture in the EU budget. “This situation cannot continue,” he added, saying that the current economic crisis and national austerity measures put a bigger spotlight on the EU’s long-term budget.
Around 30 percent of the EU’s budget goes in direct support to farmers and market support mechanisms with another 11 percent in rural development programs. Nečas’ demands come with EU states taking up their positions over its long term financial priorities from 2014-2020. Some of the key decisions should be taken by the end of this year.
While the Czech prime minister’s comments will go down well with his British host, Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, they are not likely to make friends among the French, large beneficiaries of farm support, or Poland, the biggest single recipient of Cohesion Fund cash between 2007 and 2013. The Czech Republic itself has been and remains a big beneficiary of cohesion support under the current rules.
Nečas has also demanded far reaching reforms of the EU’s single market to boost sluggish economic growth.