Note:Your browser doesn't correctly display this page because of a bad stylesheets interpretation. This is probably due to an old browser version.

[Luxembourg 2005 Presidency of the Council of the European Union]
 Version française        

You are here : Home > News > Press Releases > January 2005 > European Ministers for agriculture discuss the reform of the "sugar" sector with representatives of the ACP and LDC countries
Print this page Send this page

Press Release
European Ministers for agriculture discuss the reform of the "sugar" sector with representatives of the ACP and LDC countries

Date of release : 24-01-2005

Policy area : Agriculture and Fisheries Agriculture and Fisheries

Event : Agriculture and Fisheries Council

At the invitation of the Presidency, the Ministers for agriculture, together with the European Commission, today held an informal meeting with representatives of the ACP and LDC countries on the reform of the Community’s sugar regime. The exchange of views revolved around the impact of the said reform on the signatory countries to the Sugar Protocol benefiting from a preferential system, including quotas and guaranteed prices for sugar supplies to the Community market.

"I have taken note of an agreement on the need for reform, but also on the fact that it is necessary to consider the legitimate interests of the third countries affected by the reform of the Community sugar regime," announced President Fernand Boden at a press briefing. "Before this meeting, there was a consensus on the need to consider the concerns of these countries, and today we are even more aware of the need to find an equitable solution." The President announced that the meeting had been both necessary and useful as an opportunity to listen to the suggestions, concerns and criticism of all the parties concerned.

The reform, as proposed by the Commission, provides for a reduction of one-third of the price of sugar on the internal market; the price on the world market currently representing only one-third of the Community price. The Commissioner responsible for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mariann Fischer Boel, explained that the sugar sector had not undergone a reform over the past 40 years and that the current system was the target of widespread criticism; it was therefore necessary to bring this sector into line with the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. She is hoping for a political agreement on the issue in November 2005, so that the Community’s position can be defined prior to the meeting at ministerial level of the World Trade Organisation in Hong Kong in December 2005.

During the meeting, the Commission submitted its action plan aimed at helping the partner countries adapt to the consequences of the reform. The plan aims to make the sugar sector more competitive, if it is viable in the partner countries concerned; and if not, to promote diversification of the economy as well as responding to the adaptation needs of the partner country in the broader sense. The Commissioner responsible for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel, announced that the European Union was "aware of the need to anticipate the effects of the reform." Therefore, the action plan must be launched before the reform is finalised, he added. The duration of Community support for partner countries is scheduled to last eight years, outlined the Commissioner.

"The ACP and LDC countries have enjoyed and will continue to enjoy a privileged relationship with the European Union", stated the Commissioner for External Trade Peter Mandelson. "The Commission does not want to impose the change, but wishes to bring it about as a partner", he added.

The representatives of the ACP and LDC countries, ministers Nandcoomar Bodha from Mauritius and Galal Yousif El Degeir from Sudan, announced that the meeting had been positive and that they had taken the opportunity to express their concerns and the positions of the signatory countries to the Sugar Protocol. "We would like to be part of this reform and wish to have a positive dialogue", said Nandcoomar Bodha during the press conference.

"We have carried out far-reaching reforms with a view to diversifying the economy in our countries, but our vulnerable economies cannot withstand such drastic price reductions and we need more time to adapt", he emphasised. He added that he intended to lodge a formal request for a second meeting of this kind when the formal proposal for the reform has been submitted by the European Commission.

Related links

This page was last modified on : 25-01-2005

Top Top