The French government slammed proposed cuts to the EU budget for farming as ‘unacceptable’ on Wednesday.
Under a draft budget unveiled by the European Commission, funding for farmers across the bloc via the politically sensitive Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) would fall by around five percent.
Paris has historically defended the single largest area of EU spending, a huge help to the politically influential but economically struggling French agricultural sector.
‘Such a drastic, massive and blind cut is simply unimaginable,’ a statement from the agriculture ministry said, adding that France ‘will not accept any decrease in direct income for farmers’.
The proposed reduction would create an ‘unprecedented risk’ for French farms, it added.
French President Emmanuel Macron opened the door to changes to the CAP in a landmark speech on Europe in Paris last September when he said it needed to be reformed.
The French government supports ‘a modernisation and a simplification of the CAP’ which would protect farmers from price volatility as well as helping them adapt to and fight climate change’, the ministry said.
French farmers are the biggest beneficiaries from the CAP.
The draft budget was unveiled by European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker for the seven years after 2019 when Britain is expected to leave the 28-member European Union.
The proposals are the first stage in what promises to be hard-fought negotiations between the remaining members of the bloc.