13 FEBRUARY 2002

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Special measures requested by Malta for rural development

In its negotiations with the European Union on the sector of agriculture, Malta is requesting a number special arrangements for the implementation of a rural development programme.

Malta is requesting that all its agricultural land be recognised as a less-favoured area due to the severe handicaps and structural problems of agricultural land in Malta. In this respect, Malta requests to negotiate the classification criteria with regard to its status as a less-favoured area.

Malta is also requesting that its farmers receive higher compensatory payments than the maxima indicated in a 1999 EC Regulation on the support for rural development from the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF).

Malta requests to have areas recognised as subject to environmental constraints.

This will enable the Maltese islands to ensure continued agricultural land use, maintain a viable rural community as well as safeguard a sustainable agricultural system. It will also enable Malta to redress environmental degradation in areas with environmental restrictions and ensure environmental requirements. In particular, this will address agriculture in Gozo, which requires special consideration and incentives in order to conserve its typical structure.

Malta will be seeking assistance for the rehabilitation, restructuring and viability of Maltese agriculture under the second pillar of the Common

Agricultural Policy (CAP) by virtue of a 1999 EC Regulation. For this purpose, Malta is in the process of preparing a Rural Development Programme which will address those issues deriving from the peculiar specificities and small land holder reality of Maltese agriculture. Malta considers it imperative that the implementation of this Programme will commence during the pre-accession period.

In anticipation of the support which Malta expects to receive on accession and in order to ensure the necessary level of preparation and continuity, Malta requests that it starts benefiting from a special accession programme for agriculture and rural development. The Rural Development Programme will be submitted to the Commission by the first quarter of 2002.

The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07
Tel: (356) 382741-3, 382745-6 | Fax: (356) 385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt