July 20, 2004: Meeting in Brussels on July 19,
European Union’s agricultural ministers came to
an easy agreement, the sugar regime set up in 1968 and
practically unchanged since, needed to be reformed. No
other point brought such agreement, as Agriculture Commissioner
Franz Fischler’s proposed reforms were defeated
on a varying set of criteria.
Ministers disagreed with Fischler over the levels and
the stages proposed for reducing the intervention price
for sugar as well as the minimum price of beet. 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. The Fischler proposal introduces
a system whereby payments are decoupled from the level
The current system has come under widespread criticism
for being over-protective of EU farmers and sugar manufacturers,
keeping prices artificially high and dumping EU exports
on the world market. These practices have distorted the
world price for sugar and left farmers in developing nations
suffering with the low prices of a flooded market.
To help sort out lingering questions ministers tagged
a special committee of agricultural experts to conduct
a thorough examination of the current regime and report
back to them at a later date.
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