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Lipponen Rejects Taking Hard Line Over Farming Subsidies

Former Prime Minister and ex-Speaker of Parliament Paavo Lipponen says Finnish farmers are going to have to be flexible when it comes to negotiating a deal with the European Union over farming subsidies.

Speaking on YLE's Saturday political programme Lauantaiseura, Lipponen noted that the 141 agricultural subsidy for southern Finland was only supposed to be temporary.

He said the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Sirkka-Liisa Anttila and Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen have taken the right approach in talks with the EU, and deserve the full support of Parliament. The Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners have been disappointed by Anttila's conciliatory tone with the EU, and have demanded that Finland hitch the subsidy issue to approval of the new EU draft constitution.

Lipponen rejects this idea as counterproductive. He says Finland should not undermine constructive EU politics with threats, but try and negotiate a good compromise for all concerned.

Anttila's Goals Upset Farmers Earlier in the week Anttila told YLE that Finland will propose keeping the subsidy at this year's level, 94 million euros. The Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners says it needs 129 million euros a year, which would include a separate environmental supplement.

The organisation's chairperson Michael Hornborg says farmers will feel betrayed if Anttila does not push for the 35-million-euro supplement.

Anttila hopes to be able to meet the Commissioner for Agriculture to discuss the matter before the official talks scheduled for November 15.

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