Anger over costly EU propaganda to sell us benefits of "hopeless" CAP

16-Oct-2013 @ 9:0

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Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Conservative MEPs today condemned a costly European Union"awareness campaign" intended to tell people what a good job theCommon Agricultural Policy is doing.

The Commission has announced a continent-wide roadshow ofpresentations and audio-visual screenings, as well as a series of internetpackages promoting the supposed benefits the controversial CAP. Much of thematerial will be geared towards "educational" messages to influencechildren and feed into school curriculums.

It will be funded from a pot of almost £1m (exact figure€1,071,600,00) set aside in the CAP budget for self-promotion. A figure almostas large is also committed for extra spending in the near future.

Among the CAP achievements to be trumpeted are that it"has evolved to address global challenges", that it helpsfarmers "keep the countryside alive" and that it is"one of the most integrated policies of the EU".

There is even a competition offering prizes to the"professional communication agency, general or specialised media,non-governmental organisation or public administration" which have madethe best job of selling the perceived strengths of the CAP.

By contrast, there appears to be no mention ofintervention that leads to butter mountains and wine lakes, of damaging milkquotas or of generous subsidies to tobacco-growers, all of which are enshrinedin the latest version on the CAP.

Julie Girling, Conservative Agriculture spokesman in theEuropean Parliament, said: "Let's face it, after years of bitternegotiation over reform of the CAP, the EU managed to come up with somethingeven worse than we had before.

"We Conservative MEPs tried our hardest to minimisethe damage, but they ended up with a package which was bad for farmers, bad forfood security, bad for the environment and bad for consumers.

"Now they are about to spend nearly a million poundsof the public's money telling us how wonderful it is. They want us all tobelieve it is a stunning success when it is a hopeless failure.

"What I find really insidious is the way theCommission is so willing to make free with voters' money in order to tell themwhat to think. And when that exercise extends into the classroom I find thatdownright disturbing."

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