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This was notably the case as regards standards for traded goods, including foodstuffs: such standards are clearly desirable to ensure fair competition and to help consumers to know what they are buying, but the Commission did become more discerning in deciding which standards were necessary and those which were not. The CAP at this time was giving relatively little benefit to Italy; in fact, political instability had prevented Italy from playing a significant role in the establishment of the policy and its subsequent development.

I have never been able to see in Chirac much more than a very successful showman. 4 Undoubtedly the worst French agriculture minister of this time was Edith Cresson (1981-83), appointed by Francois Mitterrand. She knew little about agriculture or the issues of the day and was obviously dependent on briefs from her officials. Even then her interventions were pitiful – my Greek student at the College of Europe who had represented France at one of our “simulations” of the Council negotiations (see later chapter) would have done a better job.

So a new common policy was needed to manage fisheries in the expanded zone. Proposals started to arrive from the Commission, and the CFP was added to my remit in the Council Secretariat; in the following years, it was to take up at least as much of my time as agriculture. It was an area where the Secretariat sometimes had an unusually active role. The Commission took some time to get itself organised for this new task: at first, fisheries policy came under the Commissioner for agriculture and the Agricultural Directorate-General.

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