EU Commissioner Franz Fischler, has suggested that the link between farm subsidies under the Common Agricultural Policy and production levels should be severed. The EU’s plan earmarks the funds for direct farm subsidies to be progressively transferred to a system under whereby farmers would be paid bonuses for developing their land.
France has said the plan will harm the EU's agriculture, Germany has said the proposals do not go far enough. Britain has urged the EU to question the future of the entire system of subsidies. While the scheme has also raised doubts in Ireland, Spain and Portugal.
In 2004 a further 10 new member countries will join the EU for which farm subsidies account for almost half of its annual budget.