The Estonian Agricultural Registers and Information Board will make its first subsidy payment from EU structural funds on July 30.
The 770,000 kroon (49,200 euro) EU subsidy will go to Teedla Mois (Teedla Estate), which will use the funds to acquire farming machinery. Raamets said Teedla Mois would be the first subsidy recipient as it first completed the required paperwork and met the required self-financing level. OU Teedla Mois of Rongu Commune in Tartu, a crop cultivation and animal husbandry farm, is one of the major employers in the area.
The European Commission gave member countries an overview of proposals concerning the sugar sector reform, but most failed to support them. "Estonia, where there is no sugar-beet farming or sugar production, was one of the few member countries that supported the European Commission's proposal," said Agriculture Minister Ester Tuiksoo. "Our aim is to protect consumers' interests, for whom the sugar reform would bring lower prices." Tuiksoo added that from a traditional sugar producing country's point of view, the EC's proposal of lowering sugar prices and production quotas went too far, as it could phase out sugar-beet cultivation and sugar production in less competitive areas. According to EU Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler's plans, the guaranteed sugar prices and quotas would drop by one third as of July 2005, resulting in a price per kilogram of about 10 kroons (0.64 euros).
Lithuania leads the 10 new members in the number of directives harmonized with national law on the internal market. In the annual EU state evaluation of achievements, which has been carried out by the Internal Market Directorate General and announced on the European Commission's Web site, Lithuania leads with only 1.2 percent of EU directives not transferred to national law. Slovenia ranks second with 1.8 percent, followed by Hungary with 2.6 percent. Petras Austrevicius, the governmental chancellor's deputy for EU affairs, said that Lithuania's high ranking was a result of hard work and efficient coordination among state institutions. He added that the evaluation would lead to better business opportunities in the large EU market.
Lithuania's textile producers have sided with EU colleagues, urging bloc authorities to postpone trade liberalization for at least three years, until 2008, upon evaluation of the industry's economic importance. Should the EU open its market for free textile imports and garments from China and other Third World countries in 2005, Lithuania's industry may not withstand the competition. "We cannot agree with the habit of certain Third World countries, including China, not to follow the professional ethics standards, environmental provisions and other common regulations," said Jonas Karciauskas, president of the Lithuanian Apparel and Textile Industry Association. Following the EU and WTO agreement on the liberalization of textile and apparel trade, starting from 2005 the bloc should eliminate quotas and licenses for products from Third World countries and reduce import rates.