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Thursday 24 May 2018

Almost €1m owed to farmers over-charged sugar levy

A farmer harvests a sugar beet field in Puits-la-Vallee, northern France, November 17, 2017. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier -/File Photo
A farmer harvests a sugar beet field in Puits-la-Vallee, northern France, November 17, 2017. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier -/File Photo
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed has confirmed that almost €1m is owed to sugar producers over-charged sugar production levies for the years 1999/2000 and 2000/2001.

It comes after the European Court of Justice delivered a judgment in February declaring invalid the EU Commission Regulations fixing the production levies and the coefficient for calculating the additional levy in the sugar sector for those years.

The Court ruled that the EU Commission was incorrect in calculating the annual levies set for the period in question.

The Court also found that the method used by the EU Commission to fix the levies was incorrect because it led to an over-estimation of the costs to be covered and consequently overcharged to Greencore and the former beet growers.

The levies for the marketing years in question, set by EU Regulation, provided for a self-financing system for the sugar sector by means of flexible production levies.

At the time, under EU Regulations the common organisation of the markets in the sugar sector was based on the operation of a quota system on the principle that producers should bear full financial responsibility for the losses incurred each marketing year due to disposing of surplus sugar over the production quota allocated.

According to the Minister, the principle amount to be re-imbursed to the former sugar processor Greencore and the sugar beet growers for the years in question will be €933,435 (plus interest to be added).

He said no further details are available at this time on the level of refund or the number of recipients. He added that the payments will be made in due course.

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