13 December 2000
Union sour over sugar reform

By FWi staff

REFORM of Europes sugar industry will seriously damage British farmers, the National Farmers Union has told MPs.

A submission from the union to the House of Commons Euro Scrutiny Committee says farmers will lose out by opening up the European market

Brussels wants to give the worlds 48 Least Developed Countries duty-free access to the European Union for all products – apart from weapons.

But the NFU says Brussels “must not allow itself to be swept away on a wave of enthusiasm” before considering the full impact of its good intent.

Close inspection of the “Everything But Arms” (EBA) proposal reveals a deeply worrying scenario for products such as sugar, it said.

NFU vice president Michael Paske said a wide range of disastrous impacts and cost implications would result from the proposals.

“There must be a full debate and consideration of the consequences of EBA on existing suppliers of EU markets,” he added.

Sugar-beet processing factories would close, jobs would be lost and Britains ability to meet half its domestic sugar needs, said Mr Paske.

It would also undermine the EU pledge to give preferential market access to sugar producers from African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.

The NFU wants sugar to be excluded from the proposals while an the issue is debated by the Europes agriculture ministers and its parliament.

Matt Twidale, chairman of the NFU sugar-beet committee, said the proposals had already caused real concern for British sugar producers.

The Euro Scrutiny Committee and the Agriculture Committee will question agriculture minister Joyce Quin on the matter on 20 December.