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Monday 22 January 2018

Brussels rubbishes 'back door' milk quota scheme

A proposal to introduce a 'quota by the back door' in 2015 has been rubbished by Brussels-based spokesmen
A proposal to introduce a 'quota by the back door' in 2015 has been rubbished by Brussels-based spokesmen
Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

Fears that a French proposal to introduce a 'quota by the back door' in 2015 have been rubbished by Brussels-based spokesmen this week.

A conference on managing European milk markets when milk quotas cease in 19 months' time is due to take place in the Belgian capital next Tuesday.

French MEP Michel Dantin had proposed a support system funded by a levy on farmers who increased their milk by more than 5pc a year to help prop up milk prices if dairy market returns collapsed in the years ahead.

However, spokesmen for both the EU Commission and ICOS said that the proposal was highly unlikely to gain support.

In addition, they said that there was no possibility of the quota system being maintained beyond April 2015.

"This conference is about what options we should look at when quotas go, rather than the options open if quotas should go," said the Commission's spokesman, Roger Waite.

"The Commission maintains an open mind on possible steps, and will discuss the conclusions of the conference with the [European] Parliament and the Council.

"We are also keen to look at this issue now, as member states are drafting their plans for implementing CAP reform, so that they can consider additional measures in regions where production is perhaps more sensitive."

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Vulnerable

ICOS's Brussels-based representative, Conor Mulvihil, said that the Ernst and Young report on the best possible way of protecting vulnerable milk producers after the safety net of quota management goes had effectively ruled out Dantin's proposal as a viable option.

"Six dairy market experts contracted by Ernst and Young's French unit have done up a very detailed report.

"They found that [Dantin's] supply management proposals were unworkable and expensive. Instead, they have come around to the same stance maintained by ICOS – that existing tools such as intervention, aid for private storage and export refunds are the best way to manage dairy volatility."

The crisis reserve is an additional €125m fund designed to be kept in reserve for unexpected market crashes such as that seen during the E. coli scare that collapsed prices for cucumbers in 2011. However, the ICMSA is lobbying for greater market management and monitoring through the establishment of a European milk monitoring agency.

Irish Independent