Smith Meets Proposed Agriculture Commissioner

09 December 2009
SNP Member of the European Parliament Alyn Smith has today (Wednesday) met with the nominee for the Agriculture Commissioner, Romanian Dacian Ciolos in Brussels.

At a cordial meeting the Commissioner-Designate agreed to Mr Smith's invitation to come to Scotland to tour our world class agriculture and see for himself how different Scottish agriculture is from the UK.

Mr Ciolos, along with all the other Commissioners-Designate, is still to face the European Parliament confirmation hearings, where each individual will be grilled by the Parliament committee they will be working with. After these hearings the Parliament will vote to accept, en bloc, or reject, en bloc, the Commission as a whole.

Much of today's meeting was spent discussing Smith's proposals for a European Farm Prices and Margins Observatory, which won through in the Budget vote last month and now sits in the Commissioner's in-tray for action. Mr Ciolos outlined how he, as Agriculture Minister in Romania, brought in legislation to deal with the thorny problem of the difference between the amount producers receive and the amount consumers pay. This issue will clearly be a priority for the new Commissioner and Smith assured him of active support.

The meeting also discussed politics in Scotland, and how Scotland is in the unusual position of having near total responsibility for agriculture, yet represented by the London Ministers in talks in Brussels who often have a very different attitude to matters European.

Speaking after the meeting, Smith said:

"I, like most of mainstream Scottish opinion, was initially positive about Mr Ciolos being the Romanian appointee, and after our meeting I feel confirmed in that optimism. The former Agriculture Minister has a solid grasp of the issues, and is very much looking to implement a "one-Europe" policy for agriculture, breaking down the artificial divisions between East and West, old member states and new. We in Scotland have emphatically nothing to fear from this approach: any needs-based CAP will see Scottish farmers supported adequately. Likewise the fact he has a familiarity with the French way of thinking is also a good thing for us, Scotland is pretty close to the French way of thinking on a number of things!

"I was glad to brief him on how things are going in Scotland, and the distinctive view we have on any number of matters where he may perhaps previously have been more conscious only of the UK line. The Pack Review, as well as the latest thinking on LFA reform are of crucial relevance to the future of Scotland's agriculture and he specifically asked to be kept up to speed on developments

"I was impressed with his openness and willingness to listen. We are clearly not going to agree on everything all the time, but where we had a constructive relationship with Mariann Fischer-Boel I feel we will continue in this vein with her successor."