'CAP is at heart of European project' - Le Foll
French agriculture minister Stéphane Le Foll says there is a European consensus in favour of a "strong" and "reactive" Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
Following a think-in at the historic Chambord castle in the Loire Valley last week, Mr Le Foll said a succession of recent market crises called for a CAP that gave farmers the means to cope with future downturns.
"All of the ministers present reiterated their commitment to a common agricultural policy that is at the heart of the European project, at the service of citizens and farmers. It should continue to be an engine for European integration," Mr Le Foll said.
The informal gathering, billed as a rumination on the future of the CAP after the UK's shock decision to quit the EU in June, offered little in the way of substance, though it gave ministers a chance to air their grievances.
The CAP has been criticised for failing to react quickly enough to support farmers crippled by price volatility in the dairy, pork and fruit and vegetable markets.
The system of direct payments to farmers has also come under renewed scrutiny since the Brexit vote, with British conservation groups calling for a shift away from land-based subsidies.
A July report from the European Commission's in-house think-tank said the CAP had encouraged the growth of large-scale industrial farms and called for payments to support more environmentally friendly ends.
EU agriculture chief Phil Hogan said recently he would like to see small farmers benefitting more from the CAP, while France wants a larger pot for future market crises.