EU agriculture ministers continued to show their divisions on the issue of sugar reform at last week’s agriculture council in Luxembourg.

A new letter, signed by 11 member states including the big bloc voters of Spain, Italy and Poland, reiterated calls for lower price cuts, longer transition periods and higher compensation.

Mrs Fischer Boel said she was trying to find common ground to meet some of their concerns.

But she stressed a final deal was needed at next month’s council meeting, to give farmers clarity ahead of the next growing season and to strengthen her hand going into WTO negotiations in Hong Kong.

“I can’t defend a new reform unless I know what is in that reform,” she said.