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EC gets radical over reform

Published:  18 January, 2007

The suggestion to remove 400,000 hectares of vines - three times South Africa's wine-producing area - is breathtaking to say the least.

The reaction of French farmers in southern France to these proposals is going to be very interesting. The chill wind of reform is likely to blow away a way of life. Anyone who loves France will be nervous at what this is likely to mean for these guys and their familes. The same applies to Italian, Spanish and Greek farmers.

Nevertheless, these huge surpluses which then become industrial alcohol, at great expense to the

EU taxpayer, have to be eradicated. If these farmers really have to grow something, they may as well grow food for the Third World.

The cynics will say that these far-reaching proposals will get bogged down in bureaucracy and will eventually sink without a trace under a welter of counter proposals and various blocking tactics. The commission has stated: nine months of consultation and then the reforms passed in two to three years. It has also stated that it will not put up with mere cosmetic changes.

We will see. Certainly, something has to give - and it should not continually be the taxpayers. If Old World producers want to get back into consumers' shopping baskets, they should bite the bullet.

Christian Davis