BRUSSELS HAS come under increased pressure to reform its sugar support system, following a ruling by the World Trade Organisation in Geneva that the current regime is illegal.

The WTO was responding to a case brought by Australia, Brazil and Thailand in 2002, who had claimed that the EU‘s supposedly unsubsidised exports of C sugar were in fact cross-subsidised by the profits processors make on A and B quota sugar.

The three countries also complained that the EU was failing to count about 1.6m tonnes of its sugar against the annual ceiling for subsidised exports agreed under the last Uruguay Round of WTO talks.

The final report from the WTO disputes panel was sent to the parties involved last week (w/e Sept 10).

Although the document will not be made public for another month, it is understood that they uphold the complainants‘ views.

A commission spokesman said that the EU would study the report closely before deciding whether to launch an appeal.