EURO MP David Bowe has expressed "grave concern" over the reported deal between France and Germany on the future of farm subsidies in the European Union.

The Yorkshire and Humberside MEP is warning that it could spell harsh cutbacks in European support for Yorkshire farmers.

He has already expressed concern that enlarging the EU would have serious implications for the area and lead to cutbacks in regional funds.

He believes the agreement between French president Jacques Chirac and German chancellor Gerhard Schroder effectively postpones any major reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and could worsen the situation.

He said: "The admission of eastern and central European countries will itself put enormous pressure on budgets since all of the new members will be looking for large amounts of support to bring them up to the living standards and economic performance enjoyed in the rest of the EU.

"But if we have a situation where until at least 2006 around half of the EU budget will continue to be swallowed up by the farm subsidy scheme, it is clear that there will be an even smaller 'cake' to share."

Updated: 10:00 Thursday, October 31, 2002