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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-11-25

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] EU farm ministers adopt sugar sector reform, Greece votes against revision

  • [01] EU farm ministers adopt sugar sector reform, Greece votes against revision

    Greece voted against a decision on revision of the EU's Common Market Organisation for sugar, which was passed by a 'qualified majority' by the EU Council of Farm Ministers at a meeting on Thursday in Brussels.

    The EU Council of Farm Ministers on Thursday agreed on a new deal to cut prices in the sugar sector, according to which the guaranteed price for sugar will be cut by 36 percent. Under current EU rules, beet sugar producers are offered a guaranteed price for sugar that EU officials say is three times the average world market price. EU sources said the reform of the European Union's nearly 40-year-old sugar policy was required after its sugar price support was declared illegal by World Trade Organisation (WTO) arbitrators, following complaints lodged by Australia, Brazil and Thailand.

    A spokesman for the EU's British presidency said the "deal has been done" by virtue of "a large qualified majority" of EU farm ministers who signed the reform proposed by the presidency and the European Commission, who reached a compromise for a 36 percent reduction at Thursday's meeting after the European Commission's initial proposal for a 39 percent reduction was voted down by the ministers at an earlier meeting on Tuesday.

    Greece voted against the compromise at Thursday's session, and also at Tuesday's session.

    Greece's agricultural development and foods minister Evangelos Basiakos said after the meeting that regardless of the regulations decided, which Greece had categorically opposed from the outset, the Athens government would utilise all the arrangements provided under the compromise, in collaboration with the relevant agencies, to support Greek farmers and industry.

    EU agriculture commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel said after the Council decision that the Commission will now be in a better bargaining position going into WTO ministerial talks in Hong Kong next month.

    After the marathon three-day meeting, Greece's agricultural development and foods minister Evangelos Basiakos stated that Greece voted against the new sugar regulation at the Council of Farm Ministers, reacting to its adverse arrangements.

    He said that following many months of discussions and deliberations by the Council of Farm Ministers, a decision was taken on reform of the Common Market Organisation for sugar, which had been in force for nearly 40 years, that was tied to specific decisions in 2001 for concessions to specific non-EU countries and with ongoing discussions in the framework of the WTO.

    Basiakos said that Greece, at all stages of the process, had undertaken specific initiatives, in cooperation with the farmers' representatives (the PASEGES, GESASE and SYDASE umbrella confederations) and the Greek Sugar Industry aimed at rejection of the adverse EU proposals, adding that Greece had been a front-runner in forming the 11-country minority in the 25-nation EU that opposed the planned reforms up until the last minute.

    He stressed that the coordinated pressure exercised by the minority front had led to an improvement on the initial reform proposals, adding that Greece had rejected, more than any other member state, and up to the very end, even the final proposals, which, the minister stressed, created many adaptation difficulties for sugarcane cultivation and the Sugar Industry.

    Basiakos said that the final details of the regulations, which were due to be clarified in the next few days, in addition to the 36 percent reduction in prices over the four-year period, also provided for compensation, through EU funds, of 64.2 percent of the loss of income to be incurred to farmers from the reduction, which the farmers would receive as energy crop aid at 66 euros per stremma, and also the payment of a specific sum to farmers abandoning sugar cultivation in the event the production decrease is greater than 50 percent in the country.

    He said specific measures and resources were also provided for restructuring that would be given to industry, workers, owners of machinery, and farmers.

    Basiakos said it was obvious that specific restructuring measures needed to be advanced, and also the necessary funds given, so as to render the industry competitive, while at the same time the sugar industry's prospects should be exploited for the production of bio-fuel, through priority utilisation also of the national production from energy plants, in accordance with the regulations set out in the Greek development ministry's bill.

    Regardless of the outcome and decisions by the Council of Farm Ministers, Basiakos said, on which Greece has consistently been categorically opposed, the government would utilise, in cooperation with all the releveant agencies, all the regulations provided so as to support the Greek farmers and industry.

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