Signs of EU Paradigm Change on Agricultural Subsidies vs. Development Aid

A Belgian farmer checks the quality of his crops. Photo by: EU

Germany’s European Union delegation suggested lowering the regional bloc’s agricultural subsidies to boost EU foreign assistance during a Brussels visit this week by State Secretary Hans-Jürgen Beerfeltz, who was in town to discuss Europe’s international cooperation with European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs and other top EU officials.

Europe’s practice of subsidizing its farmers and, in essence, shielding them from international competition is incoherent with international development goals, the politicians told Beerfeltz, who works for Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, according to a press release. Brussels lawmakers are currently drafting the EU’s next multiannual financial framework, which covers 2014-2020.

Many economists and aid experts argue that reducing agricultural subsidies and trade barriers would spur development and alleviate poverty and hunger around the globe. Industrialized countries, including the United States, have so far resisted bold action, however, for fear of negatively affecting domestic food producers.

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    Rolf Rosenkranz

    Rolf Rosenkranz oversees a talented team of in-house journalists, correspondents and guest contributors located around the globe. Since joining Devex in early 2008, Rolf has been instrumental in growing its fledgling news operation into the leading online source for global development news and analysis. Previously, Rolf was managing editor at Inside Health Policy, a subscription-based news service in Washington. He has reported from Africa for the Johannesburg-based Star and its publisher, Independent News & Media, as well as the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, a German daily.