ENLARGEMENT WILL make EU agriculture stronger and more competitive in the long term, EU agricultural commissioner Franz Fischler told Dairy Event visitors at a Spotlight on Profit forum

It has already opened borders, improved trade relations and brought more consumers demanding high quality food.

“It brings more producers onto the playing field which is undoubtedly a challenge, but this forces farmers to evaluate their competitive position,” he said.

“Will there be surplus milk in a few years from improved efficiency and a rise in production from the new member states? My answer is no.

“They are subjected to the same tight quota system and production in the 15 states is well below quota. Demand for dairy products will grow and the fact is that each EU enlargement has resulted in economic growth.”

Mr Fischler said that he believed there would be increased demand for added-value dairy products which would absorb any additional milk production.

He also pointed out that the reduction in intervention support prices over a five-year period to bring prices closer to world market level, provided a real safety net for producers, not an artificial outlet for new member states.

Personally, Mr Fischler believes new member states will put pressure on the EU to remove the quota system, currently fixed until 2015, because they will increase demand faster than they can increase their supply.