Centre sour on EU sugar decision

Yesterday in Parliament, Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen criticized the EU commission in unusually harsh terms:

[Vanhanen] strongly criticised the European commission for what he said was an unfair reform of sugar production in the EU.

Mr Vanhanen said during question time in the Finnish Parliament that the commission had failed to be impartial and to take into account Europe's diversity.

He added this would no doubt affect Finland's opinion of the commission.

Startlingly, the prime minister did not even attempt to dress the issue as some sort of defensive victory, saying point-blank that Finland had lost in the negotiations.

Vanhanen needed to show his displeasure with the decision just for the sake of party morale. Agricultural subsidies are a huge issue for the rural Centre Party rank-and-file.

Although I don't like the Centre's pro-subsidies position, on this particular question Vanhanen and Agricultural Minister Sirkka-Liisa Anttila (Centre), who was also very critical of the decision, have a point about fairness. Finnish farmers already cut sugar production by 40 percent during the previous phase of reform. Now farmers in other countries which didn't do what they were supposed to do are being rewarded with higher incentives to stop production.

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