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Home >> Business
UPDATED: 08:56, September 27, 2006
EU agriculture ministers discuss industry's future challenges
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Agriculture ministers of the European Union (EU) concluded an informal three-day meeting in Oulu, Finland, on Tuesday after discussing the European model of agriculture and the future challenges of the agriculture sector.

During the meeting, all the ministers expressed their support for the common European values, favored the increasing competitiveness in the EU, and approved the simplification of the common agricultural policy.

According to the ministers, the future agricultural policy must ensure that production is market-oriented and environmentally-friendly and that it takes account of the consumers' needs.

The policy also needs to be flexible enough to adapt to the challenges agriculture is going to face. It should also make sure that agricultural production continues in less favorable production regions.

The holder of the EU's current presidency, Finland, stressed in the meeting the need to ensure the preconditions for practicing agriculture in all parts of Europe, including regions suffering from special handicaps.

The informal meeting discussed the European sustainable model of agriculture, which suggested that agriculture should be practiced in all parts of Europe, and should be economically, socially and ecologically sustainable and market-oriented.

The model also aims for simpler administrative procedures, in spite of the great diversity among the countries and regions of Europe.

On the final day of the informal meeting, hundreds of Finnish farmers gathered in the city center of Oulu, demanding the continuation of special EU agriculture subsidies. Farmers said that making a livelihood without the subsidies would be impossible. In Finland, the short growing season and the long indoor feeding period, as well as long distances, create permanent disadvantages in conditions. The agricultural policy must have the means to compensate for these disadvantages.

EU Agriculture Commissioner Marian Fisher Boel, who also attended the meeting, has already ruled out the demand but hinted that some help might be continued "under different criteria."

Source: Xinhua

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