Nick Brown, the British agriculture minister, claims the deal will eventually save pounds 1bn a year on food prices in this country - but what he means is that food prices will not go up by this amount, as they otherwise would. This is scant consolation for the fact that we must pay much more for our food than we need to until at least 2006.
The failure to agree radical reforms of the CAP additionally undermines the EU's stance in its dispute with the US over Caribbean bananas - which cannot be presented as an exceptional case for tariffs as long as the entire EU food market remains so insulated from world prices. It undermines the sincerity of the EU in negotiating for Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Estonia, Slovenia and Cyprus to join the EU as soon as possible.
And it weakens the whole case for further European integration by emphasising the irrational, opaque and only tenuously democratic processes of decision- making at the centre. Yesterday's deal was a step in the right direction, in that it stopped the bloated farm subsidies getting any larger, but it was a miserable pigeon-toed step which effectively took Europe backwards.Reuse content