Written Answers. - WTO Negotiations.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

85 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the way in which he expects the recent CAP discussions to impact on the WTO; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19491/03]

Direct payments which are decoupled from production should qualify as domestic support which has, in WTO terms "no, or at most, minimal trade distorting effects or effects on production," the so-called Green Box, and should be free from challenge in the WTO. Until member states decide which of the options for decoupling to implement it is not possible to indicate the total amount of EU direct payments which should qualify for the Green Box.

The changes agreed for the various sectors such as milk, cereals and rice should reduce the EU's level of domestic support which is subject to a ceiling in the WTO, the Amber Box, and the levels of export subsidy which are also subject to a ceiling. At this stage it is not possible to estimate the extent of these reductions.

While the full WTO implications of the agreement reached by the Council of Ministers have yet to be quantified, it is clear that the agreement will considerably strengthen the EU's negotiating position in the forthcoming WTO negotiations in Cancun in September.