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While criticising the strategy advocated by the European Commission, MEPs argue that it is doubtful whether the proposal would put an end to pure subsidy hunting while at the same time safeguarding and encouraging small and medium-sized holdings. The rapporteur argues "the proposals would be more likely to overshoot the target and signify the end for the entire sector. The system must be reorganised so as to cover the actual situation and stabilise the market for the future". The Commission proposes that the new market organisation and area payment arrangements should come into force on 1 July this year. However, Committee members argue this date is not realistic "since such far-reaching reform necessitates a certain running-in period for implementation and consultation".--Areas sown with flax and hemp have increased dramatically over recent years. In 1994 for example, 70,000 hectares were sown with flax and 7,000 hectares with hemp. In 1999, by contrast, flax was being cultivated on 208,000 ha and hemp on 32,000 ha. In the space of just four years, Community spending has more than doubled, rising from Euro 74 million in 1995 to 173 million in 2000. Irrespective of increased output and an increase in real demand, this expansion in the area under cultivation is attributable to "subsidy hunting". The rules have become very complex, while additional checks and administrative procedures are very difficult to manage.--Three-way reform.The Commission proposes to introduce two new Regulations: an amendment to Regulation (EC) No 1251/1999 establishing a general support system for certain arable crops to include flax and hemp grown for fibres, and a Regulation concerning the common organisation of the market in flax and hemp grown for fibres.This strategy for reform of the sector is...

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