“I am delighted with this historic agreement,” said Mariann Fischer Boel, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development. “I congratulate ministers for their brave and bold decision to reform a sector that nobody has been able or willing to reform in the past. It has been tough but common sense has prevailed. This agreement will give the EU sugar sector a viable and competitive future. Acting now means we have the funds available to ease the painful restructuring of the sector that is an absolute must, and to compensate farmers. This deal offers the sector long-term certainty. It will not cost a single cent extra in public money. It is also very important externally. Our new policy will be trade friendly, thus strengthening our hand at next month’s WTO Hong Kong Ministerial. Farmers will receive a direct payment largely decoupled from production. From 2009, the world’s poorest countries will have completely free access to our market. The EU will remain an attractive market for developing countries to sell their sugar, and we will offer our ACP partners financial assistance to adapt to the changes. This agreement will also ensure that we come rapidly into line with the recent WTO panel.”
The sugar sector will come into line with the CAP reforms of 2003 and 2004. The reform takes proper account of farmers’ incomes, consumers’ interests and the situation of the processing industry. It will bolster the competitiveness of the EU sugar industry, improve its market orientation and produce a sustainable market balance in line with the EU’s international commitments.
European producers will now enjoy long-term certainty about the rules they have to follow. The reform fixes the economic and legal framework for the European sugar sector until 2014/2015 without foreseeing a review clause. The 36 percent price cut is coupled with a generous restructuring fund lasting 4 years. The restructuring fund has three main objectives: firstly to provide incentives to encourage less competitive producers to leave the industry, secondly to provide money to cope with the social and environmental impacts of factory closure (financing of social plans or redeployment programmes and of measures to put the site back into good environmental condition) and thirdly to provide funds for the most affected regions to develop new business in coherence with EU structural and rural development funds.
Europe will remain an attractive market place for developing countries to sell their sugar. The Commission is also proposing an assistance scheme for the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries which traditionally export sugar to the EU, initially worth 40 million euros for 2006. Further long term assistance will be secured for the period 2007-2013, depending on the outcome of the discussions on the Financial Perspectives.
Details of the agreement:
A 36 percent price cut over four years beginning in 2006/07 to ensure sustainable market balance, -20 percent in year one, -25 percent in year two, -30 percent in year three and -36 percent in year four.
Compensation to farmers at an average of 64.2 percent of the price cut. Inclusion of this aid in the Single Farm Payment and linking of payments to respect of environmental and land management standards.
In those countries giving up at least 50 percent if their quota, the possibility of an additional coupled payment of 30 percent of the income loss for a maximum of five years, plus possible limited national aid.
Validity of the new regime, including extension of the sugar quota system, until 2014/15. No review clause.
Merging of ‘A’ and ‘B’ quota into a single production quota.
Abolition of the intervention system after a four-year phase-out period and the replacement of the intervention price by a reference price.
Introduction of a private storage system as a safety net in case the market price falls below the reference price.
Voluntary restructuring scheme lasting 4 years for EU sugar factories, and isoglucose and inulin syrup producers, consisting of a payment to encourage factory closure and the renunciation of quota as well as to cope with the social and environmental impact of the restructuring process.
This payment will be 730 euros per tonne in years one and two, falling to 625 in year three, and 520 in the final year.
The possibility to use some of this fund to compensate beet producers affected by the closure of factories.
An additional diversification fund for Member States where quota is reduced by a minimum amount, which increases the more quota is renounced.
Both these payments will be financed by a levy on holders of quota, lasting three years.
Sugar beet should qualify for set-aside payments when grown as a non-food crop and also be eligible for the energy crop aid of 45 euros/hectare.
To maintain a certain production in the current “C” sugar producing countries, an additional amount of 1.1million tonnes will be made available against a one-off payment corresponding to the amount of restructuring aid per tonne in the first year.
Sugar for the chemical and pharmaceutical industries and for the production of bio-ethanol will be excluded from production quotas.
Increase of Isoglucose guota of 300,000 tonnes for the existing producer companies phased in over three years with an increase of 100,000 tonnes each year.
Possibility to purchase extra isoglocose quota in Italy (60,000 tonnes, Sweden 35,000t and Lithuania 8,000t) at the restructuring aid price.
The text of the compromise is available in Michael Mann’s office. BERL 1/343.