More money in sugar reform

COMPENSATION RATES for price and quota cuts stemming from the reform of the sugar regime will be higher than the 60% currently on the table, a senior EU commission official has predicted.

Addressing the European Arable Farmers autumn meeting in Brussels on Nov 10, head of the fruit and vegetable unit Tomas Azcarate said the final deal would be a “bastardised” compromise between the pro- and anti-reform member states.

“I can imagine that compensation could be raised from 60% to, say, 70%,” he said. “But that‘s only if we can find the money and the best way to do that may be to take it from cereal producers. It will not be easy.”

He also suggested that the compensation could be split with, for example, 80% paid on A quota, but just 50% paid on B quota, benefiting member states such as the UK with a higher proportion of A quota.

But in the longer term, Mr Azcarate said compensation would inevitably be fully decoupled and harmonised.

“In the medium term there is no reason why we should have different payments for different farmers.

“They should all get the same payment for providing the same 21st century needs of traceability, food safety and care for the environment.”

He also predicted changes to the way sugar quota may be traded across national borders as part of the final deal.

Instead of free movement, as currently proposed, any unused quota could be diverted into a national reserve only to be made available to another member state if it was still unused after two or three years.

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