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Wednesday, 26 August 2009

French farmers reject EU call to pay back aid

French farmers have refused the government's call to pay back €330 million of state aid distributed to fruit and vegetable producers between 1992 to 2002 and later ruled illegal by the European Commission. "It's clear we must get farmers to start reimbursing the funds," French agriculture minister Bruno Le Maire said in an interview with Le Parisien newspaper published on 3 August. Promising he would "do nothing that could compromise the future of the sector," Mr Le Maire explained that the government would have to start collecting the money from September, so as to complete the task by the commission's January 2010 deadline. The EU executive earlier this year ruled that the state aid, initially introduced at a time of poor weather conditions, turned into a source of secure finance for investments in tractors and marketing schemes. The commission highlighted that "subsidising sales prices, storage or the destruction of part of the crop as well as financial incentives for processing the fresh product" were examples of illegal measures which harmed farmers from other countries.
Source: euobserver.com