EU Presidency Pressed on Sheep EID and Pesticides Proposals

15 July 2008

The Minister was giving evidence to the Committee in Brussels as France takes over the Presidency of the EU, and assured Mr Smith that the French Presidency "will take a pragmatic approach" to both dossiers.

The reassurance comes a day before a delegation from Scotland comprising the National Sheep Association and National Farmers Union of Scotland will come to Brussels to join Smith in presenting the "Scottish Farmer" petition against Sheep EID proposals to the Public Petitions Committee of the Parliament. The petition has attracted some 6000 signatures from across Scotland.

Speaking after today's Committee meeting Smith said:

"Minister Barnier is a credible man, and a former European Commissioner to boot, so he knows his stuff. When I questioned him in the spirit of the old alliance that he could win a lot of friends in Scotland by taking a pragmatic approach on Sheep EID and the pesticides proposals he clearly knew the issues.

"He explicitly said that the French Presidency would take a pragmatic approach, and acknowledged the complexity of the coming negotiations over the pesticides regime. Interestingly he mentioned long phase-in periods suggesting that a five year phase-in period on some products would allow research into new products, so this is some progress on a frustrating issue.

"On EID he was less forthcoming, he stressed that he himself comes from a sheep producing mountainous area, that the sheep and goat sector is one of his own top priorities and that we should be doing all we can to help the sector. I had however asked him for his views on making the whole EID package voluntary and he did not answer that question, so this fight goes on.

"Meantime we're looking forward to the Scots delegation arriving tomorrow to press the case on EID and underline the strength of feeling back home, and elsewhere, about the unworkable, expensive and illogical EID proposals. As with all things in Brussels, it is up to us to put our case, and we certainly shall tomorrow."