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Scrap EU farm subsidies to help poor, Niebel demands

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Scrap EU farm subsidies to help poor, Niebel demands
Photo: DPA
08:55 CEST+02:00
Development Minister Dirk Niebel has demanded that Europe ditch its hefty agriculture subsidies and open its markets to the world's poorest farmers in an effort to boost the fortunes of developing nations.

As debates simmers over Germany's – and the rest of the developed world's – contributions to aid in the Third World, Niebel has sought to shift the focus to how free trade can be used as a weapon against poverty and hunger.

The European Union's agriculture export subsidies should be “finally abolished,” Niebel said.

“We have to strengthen our markets for products from developing nations and open the door for improved import possibilities,” he told Wednesday's edition of the daily Schweriner Volkszeitung.

Agriculture in rural areas of the developing world had to be more strongly supported and promoted, he added.

“The situation is as drastic as ever. It's not good news when nearly a billion people are suffering from hunger,” he said.

The EU spends about 40 percent of its budget, or nearly €50 billion per year, on subsidising its farmers. This allows them to sell their produce more cheaply, keeping down prices for European consumers, but also harming competitors abroad, notably farmers in developing countries where similar subsidies are not paid.

Niebel's comments came as Chancellor Angela Merkel told a United Nations summit on the Millennium Development Goals that improved governance in poor countries was needed to ensure the countries could eventually look after themselves rather than relying on aid forever.

"Development aid cannot continue indefinitely,” she said. “The task therefore is to use limited resources as effectively as possible. This can only work through good governance which taps that country's potential.

"Without self-sustaining economic growth, developing countries will find the road out of poverty and hunger to steep to climb."

DAPD/The Local/dw

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