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Agruculture Minister Duklavs (photo: zm.gov.lv)
RIGA -- The Latvian government has announced its dissatisfaction with the EU's new version of the Common Agricultural Policy, saying that it needs drastic revisions to be workable.
“This decision by the European Commission is an outright discrimination of farmers in Latvia as well as other Baltic States. It is obvious that the distribution of direct payments envisaged by the European Commission for the next period is not based on objective criteria, having a minimum effect on reduction of the huge gap between Member States,” said Minister of Agriculture Janis Duklavs.
The CAP is the EU's single largest expense, making up nearly half of the EU budget. Under the new proposal Latvian farmers would receive 4 to 5 times less in subsidies than their Western European counterparts.
Foreign Minister Girts Kristovskis, however, said "it is not only the question of Latvian farmers receiving more funds. It is the question of how modern and competitive the EU’s agricultural policy is, how equal the conditions are that this policy creates in the common market and, consequently, what the EU’s competitive capacity will be on a global scale.”
The government's protests were mirrored on Wednesday by a popular protest held by farmers outside of the European Commission Representation building in Riga.
Around 150 farmers took part in the protest, which remained peaceful in the face of a large police presence.
At the same time, 30 farmers from Latvia are participating in a protest near the European Commission main building in Brussels.