Select Committee on European Communities Seventeenth Report


8.  PROPOSAL FOR A COUNCIL REGULATION AMENDING REGULATION (EEC) NO. 2075/92 AND FIXING THE PREMIUMS AND GUARANTEE THRESHOLDS FOR LEAF TOBACCO BY VARIETY GROUP AND MEMBER STATE FOR THE 1999, 2000 AND 2001 HARVESTS (12932/98)

Letter from Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee, to Lord Donoughue, Parliamentary Secretary (Lords), Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food

  At its meeting on 9 December Sub-Committee D considered your explanatory memorandum on this recent proposal and lifted the scrutiny reserve. As you know the Committee has concluded that the existence of a European subsidy regime for tobacco is nothing short of a scandal (13th report, Session 1996-97). That view was not altered by the partial reform of the regime earlier this year, as I made clear in my letter to you of 23 April. Now that the Committee has considered the proposal to set the premia and guarantee thresholds for tobacco for next three years, it has asked me to write again expressing its deep dissatisfaction with the situation.

  The Committee regrets that the reform of the tobacco regime could not have been carried out in the context of Agenda 2000, so that some "equality of sacrifice" amongst all Member States might have lead to more sweeping changes to the regime (and indeed to the other subsidy regimes), if not its outright abolition.

  I know that on this subject the Government are on the side of the angels, and hope that they will continue vigorously to put forward the arguments on finance, rural development, health and ethical issues which support a complete decoupling of aid from tobacco production. Lady Hayman said in her statement last Thursday on the health effect of smoking that "a Europe-wide anti-smoking framework is in place": we hope that this will soon be the case. We trust that you will continue to keep us informed of any progress, and look forward to seeing a memorandum on the next reform proposal, which is due by 2002.

14 December 1998

Letter from Lord Donoughue, Minister for Farming and the Food Industry, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, to Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee

  Thank you for your letter of 14 December 1998 giving your Committee's views on the above proposal. I agree with much of what you say. The Government will continue to argue against the tobacco regime, and I will continue to keep you informed of any significant developments.

31 January 1999


 
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