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End of sugar quotas in 2013 is 'logical' - Ciolos

EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos reiterated the need for change to the Union's sugar policy as the Commission was forced to ease key elements of the current regime due to continuing supply shortages.

Commissioner Ciolos said sugar quotas were preventing European farmers and processors from fully benefitting from the continuing buoyancy in world markets.

The Commission recently moved to release up to 400,000t of non quota, or out-of-quota, sugar onto the internal market, as well as opening a tender for fixing a minimal duty for exceptional imports into the EU.

In addition, the Commission intends to increase the volume of out-of-quota exports, up to the EU's WTO limit of 1.35m tonnes.

A Commission spokesman said the Commission's actions aimed to ensure that the EU market was well supplied.

"These proposals are designed as the most efficient measures to secure additional quantities for the domestic market -- by both facilitating imports and taking advantage of the abundance of the out-of-quota harvest within the EU," he said.

Commissioner Ciolos said the shortages, which have seen prices increase to more than €1,000/t for white sugar, highlighted the need for reform of the current regime.

"The sugar market situation observed in the EU today again shows the limits of the quota mechanism and its structural shortcomings," Commissioner Ciolos said.

"This is why I have proposed to end the sugar quota regime within our proposals for reform of the CAP after 2013 -- as the logical evolution from the 2006 sugar sector reform," he added.

"This does not mean that we will end all forms of market management. In parallel to the end of the quota regime, I have proposed a framework of modernised market management instruments with true safety nets, a clearer, strengthened role for producer organisations and obligatory contracts, before sowing, between growers and processors."

The views expressed by Commissioner Ciolos will come as a major boost to Irish groups working to restore the Irish sugar industry. Last week, the latest feasibility study into the revival of the Irish sugar industry was launched.

The study, which was commissioned by the Irish Sugar Beet Refinery Group, proposed the establishment of an integrated bio-refinery plant for the production of sugar and ethanol from sugar beet and grain.

The project would generate more than 5,000 jobs, with 2,000 growers being paid €40/t to supply 1.2m tonnes of sugar beet. It would cost €350 million to build.

Meanwhile, the Farming Independent understands that Bellview Port in south Kilkenny, Bagenalstown and New Ross are the three sites being considered by the Irish Sugar Beet Refinery Group for any new sugar plant.

Indo Farming