Sugar: CPE Proposes A Different Reform For A Responsible And Sustainable Sugar Production

Original Publication Date: 
19 July, 2004

Press release

The reform proposed by the European Commission is not the one the European Farmers Coordination and the countries of the South need. The beneficiaries would be the food industry and the big industrial plantations of the tropical countries, not the European consumers.

For the CPE, the common organization of the sugar market (CMO) has to be reformed, because: * the EU is producing too much sugar, not always in sustainable conditions: there are not too many producers, there is too much production; * the EU is exporting too much sugar; * the repartition of the sugar quotas is not fair. We need, in priority: * to maintain a sugar production in the European Union, with a better repartition between the countries of the EU, * to stop producing for exportation, by diminishing the European quota, keeping up a strong production control and regulation, * to maintain a remunerative price for sugar-beet or sugar cane, * to better distribute production between producers, * to re-organize the imports coming from the ACP- countries. But the reform proposed by the European Commission does not follow these directions: * by strongly dropping the sugar price, * by uncoupling the production from the subventions (compensating only at 60% of the price decrease), * by maintaining the quotas C for exportation, * by authorising quota transfers between Member States, and * by financing the restructuring of the sugar-refineries the Commission wants to engage the sugar production in a strong process of production concentration in the most favourable regions (the production would disappear in numerous countries) around the biggest sugar-refineries. Nevertheless, CPE agrees with the Commission that there has to be a marked decrease of the sugar production.

European producers

If the Commission has got the support of the biggest sugar industries with the tacit agreement of some members of the COPA, who count to capture the quotas in contempt of the producers of other countries and their own small producers, it will not have that amount of support from the big majority of producers, for whom this kind of reform -like the CAP reform of June 2003 is going to- signifies the future exclusion from a market in which prices will have dropped too much.

But for tens of thousands of small and middle-sized rural farms, the sugar beet makes up an indispensable part of their income (it was even an example of the producers' organization permitting them a decent income), and at the same time an interesting culture in crop rotation. Yet weakened already by the loss of income in other realms of production, they would-with such a reform-run the great risk of disappearing altogether. The nicely set speeches about rural development and the respective budgets will never be able to repair such a blood-letting.

The CPE stands in solidarity with the producers of Spain and of the other countries who demonstrated on July, 14th in Brussels for the maintenance of the production in their countries. The reform now proposed will effect the suppression of production in those countries where the production conditions are less favourable.

Sugar Industry, food-processing industries and consumers

It is clear that the biggest multinational sugar refineries agree with the reform proposition: they already bought a lot of sugar refineries in the west and in the east and if necessary they will transfer their production to Brazil by buying big industrial plantations. That the European tax-payer should finance the sugar refineries' concentration would be a scandal, one more in the lack of legitimacy of the present CAP in the use of public money.

But the biggest beneficiary, without doubt the one who has brought forth this proposition, is the food industry, thus procuring sugar much cheaper. Nestl