CAP CHALLENGE FOR NEW COMMISSION HEAD.

PositionCommon Agricultural Policy

Even before the new Commission President steps up to deliver on his promise to "achieve clear results for the European Unions people", the latest demonstration of the EU's incompetence has made his job that much harder. He will have to clean up the mess left by more than 40 years of gross mismanagement of the Common Agricultural Policy.

The official revelation by the Court of Auditors this week that nearly three-quarters of the irregular payment cases under the CAP since 1971 are still unresolved will shock everyone - except the agro-enterprises which are still benefiting from unchecked falsification, fiction and fraud.

Germany, Italy and Spain alone account for more than Euro 2 billion of the irregular payments, and barely 10% of these have been recovered. Altogether, the wasted EU funding is roughly equivalent to the amounts currently at the heart of the battles over the EU's 2005 Budget.

Jose Manuel Barroso says he attaches "particular importance to communicating Europe". The Vice-President he has appointed to lead this task, the silken-tongued Margot Wallstrom, will not find it easy to explain "what Europe does and why it does it".

In this matter, what Europe has done is disgraceful. Member States are slow in reporting irregularities, the Commission's data base is unreliable, a blacklist of...

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