Labour MEP for Munster, Phil Prendergast, today voiced her continued support for the European Commission proposal to end the quota regime for sugar in 2015. Her comments came as a response to reports of heavy lobbying from sugar producers in favour of MEP Michel Dantin’s proposal to retain the current system until September 2020.
“Mr Dantin’s proposal to continue with sugar quotas is designed to serve the interests of the three big sugar producing countries- France, Spain and Germany- and takes no account of whether there is any need for such a system. It also completely disregards the need to revive the sugar industry in countries such as Ireland where quotas led to the ruination of the sector”, the Tipperary-based MEP said.
“The system was designed to protect the price of sugar against market volatility with a reference price of around €400 a tonne. However, sugar prices are now around €700 a tonne, so something obviously needs to change.
“At €700 a tonne, it would be possible and profitable for producers and processors in Ireland to get back into the sugar market. However if the current quota regime were to remain, Ireland would be effectively locked-out of the sector, which is obviously completely unfair, especially given what happened in Mallow and Carlow.
“At the very least, if the quota system was to be retained, Ireland should receive some sort of compensation, in the form of a sizable quota, for what happened to Irish sugar under the last set of reforms when the previous government was sitting at the negotiating table.”
Senator Prendergast said she will be making these arguments when the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development meets on September 3.”