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European Community (Portugal)

Volume 77: debated on Thursday 18 April 1985

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has received from the National Farmers Union regarding the effect of Portugal's accession to the European Economic Community on British agriculture; and if he will make a statement.

I am not aware of any aspect of the terms for Portugese accession which is of substantial concern to the National Farmers Union.

What of the problems of the soft fruit farmers of the south of England?

The arrangements that we have made regarding the cost of Portuguese accession to the Community budget, in view of the major uncertainties about developments between now and the end of the 10-year transitional period, should mean that the National Farmers Union need not have immediate and serious concern on this matter.

Is my right hon. Friend not worried about the potential effect on the balance of voting in the Council of Ministers of the EC when Portugal and Spain come in and add their weight to the votes of Greece, Italy and France to swing the emphasis of CAP money to southern products, to the detriment of our farming interests?

My hon. Friend should consider the terms of the accession agreement, which awaits ratification and signature. With the transitional period that has been negotiated, I believe that British growers need not have serious worries.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that one reason for supporting agriculture in the United Kingdom, especially in mountain areas, is the fact that, for strategic reasons, we have learnt that we must keep livestock there, and that this could be affected substantially by the enlargement of the Community?

Regardless of the fact that it is proposed that Spain and Portugal should join the Community, it is unlikely that our support for the upland areas will be eroded.