OREANDA-NEWS. February 10, 2012. Prime Minister Andrus Ansip met representatives of the Central Union of Estonian Farmers. At the meeting, discussions focused on ways of improving the competitiveness of the agriculture sector and Estonia’s positions regarding the EU’s common agricultural policy reform plan.

The Prime Minister was critical of the CAP financing proposal that would harmonize direct subsidies only over 20 years. “Our aim is for subsidies to be converged to 90 percent of the European Union average by no later than the end of the next, 2014-2020 period,” Ansip told the farmers.

“We want market conditions to be equal for everyone. The current system of direct subsidies distorts competition within the European Union and makes it more complicated for Estonian farmers to compete with farmers in Western Europe,” said Ansip.

Ansip said increasing the size of the EU budget was not necessarily the only way to improve the situation. “It is in our interests to effect a proposal that would further reduce the disparity between member states. The countries with a lower subsidy level must have their subsidies grow faster than those of the states at a higher level,” said Ansip.

With regard to distribution of agricultural subsidies, Ansip emphasized that from the standpoint of making more efficient use of CAP resources, it would be reasonable to channel the direct subsidies to those with an active agricultural produce output. At the meeting, aspects related to the change in the term for payment of direct subsidies were also discussed.

The Central Union of Estonian Farmers representatives who met the Prime Minister included the Union’s president Juhan Sargava, the director of the Tartu County farmers Union Jaan Sorra, the Polva County Farmers Union director Mae Alviste, the Jogeva Producers Union director Urmas Ingver and the chairman of the management board of the Central Union of Estonian Farmers, Ullas Hunt.