The Common Market Farm Ministers meeting in Brussels, today (Thursday, March 25) ended a marathon two days of debates on price increases.
The Common Market Farm Ministers meeting in Brussels, today (Thursday, March 25) ended a marathon two days of debates on price increases. Since they met on Monday (March 22), they have been under deep pressure from without and within. On Tuesday, 80,000 farmers from all over Europe converged on the Belgian capital and staged a demonstration which ended in violent rioting with one farmer dead, more than 150 farmers and policemen injured, and millions of francs of damage. Meanwhile, around the conference table, seemingly irreconcilable differences between West Germany and Italy, threatened to break the conference up without an agreement being reached.
However, after a final all-night session of 13 hours, the six exhausted Ministers emerged today with a plan for moderate price increases coupled with reform measures to modernise European agricultural. Prince increases range from 10% for beef and 1% maize-spread over two years - a plan that is already expected to be unpopular with the farmers, whose main protests have centred round the fact that prices for their produce throughout Europe had not risen on par with costs.