EU agriculture ministers have failed to adopt the proposed reform of the sugar sector as presented on 14 July by Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler (see EurActiv, 15 July 2004).
Meeting in Brussels on 19 July, the ministers largely acknowledged the need for a reform but they failed to agree on the schedule proposed by commissioner Fischler. The levels and the stages proposed for reducing the intervention price for sugar as well as the minimum price of beet were among the main sticking points. Concerns were also raised about the proposed reform of the quota system and the transfer of quotas between Member States. Several ministers also raised the issue of the compensation level for price cuts by the introduction of payments decoupled from the level of production.
The ministers asked a special committee of agricultural experts to conduct a thorough examination of all the issues and to report back to them at a later stage. A meeting with representatives of ACP countries on the impact of the reform may also be organised in the future.
EU Actors' positions: