Danes Take The Floor In Strasbourg

Alyn Smith MEP, Scottish full member of the European Parliament's Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, has welcomed today's announcement by the Danish Prime Minister in the European Parliament of the new priorities of the Danish Presidency in the field of agriculture, notably to reopen the discussions on transparency on CAP beneficiaries, and to make the fight against antimicrobial resistance a priority of its food policy.

Under Regulation 259/2008, all recipients of direct payments and rural development funding under the CAP must be publicised along with the amounts of the public subsidy, in order to enhance transparency regarding the use of the funds, and to improve sound financial management. However, the EU Court of Justice ruled in cases C-92/09 and 93/09 that publishing data relating to natural persons without additional information such as the frequency of aid was not proportionate, forcing an amendment to the rules removing natural persons from the database and only allowing the publishing of information relating to legal persons.

With regard to antimicrobials, a German study released recently showed antibiotic resistance strains in 11 out of 20 probes into poultry meat, and the proliferation of unsound practices, such as the frequent direct sale of antibiotics to farmers from veterinarians, which is banned in other countries including Denmark. The French Government announced last November a plan to cut the use of antimicrobial medicines on farms by 25% and the Danish Presidency will hold a two day conference on the issue on March 14/15.

Alyn said:

"The Danes have been in town today, leading a debate on their Presidency programme for the next 6 months, and hats off to them, it's great to see a small northern European country setting the agenda for the whole of the EU, and raising some important issues in the process.

"I disagreed strongly with the ruling of the Court of Justice on CAP beneficiaries. While there is a proper need for data protection safeguards, it is simply untenable to argue that the receipt of large sums of European taxpayers' money is purely a private matter and should not be publicised.  Information on where CAP money is going is vital for informing our work on reforming the policy so it can achieve the greatest good. It's public money, supposedly for a public purpose - food security and landscape management for environmental public goods - so it should most certainly be public information.

"Antimicrobial resistance is clearly a growing problem in Europe, and I'm glad that the Danes are making it a key item of agricultural and food policy. The Commission have already recognised this with their 12 point Action Plan last November. 25,000 people a year die from resistant bacteria, whose circulation can increase due to resistance developed in the farm sector due to over-use of antibiotics. We need more research in this area and the efforts of the Danish Presidency will help in this regard."