Growing opposition to current EU sugar reform proposals

Published: 1 November 2005

Key European governments, Least Developed Countries and a broad range of producers, NGOs and industry representatives today condemned the current European Commission sugar reform proposals.

Key European governments, Least Developed Countries and a broad range of producers, NGOs and industry representatives today condemned the current European Commission sugar reform proposals.

The diverse group of stakeholders came together at the seminar The European Sugar Regime: Alternative Reform Proposals to discuss reform alternatives. They emphasised the need for reform of the harmful regime, but said that the current proposals were not the answer and would harm the most vulnerable producers both inside and outside Europe.

The seminar was organised by Oxfam International and took place today in Madrid. Participants included Oxfam International, the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), the Spanish government, other EU member states, producers and sugar workers from Europe and Africa, representatives from the ACP countries (Africa, Caribbean and Pacific), unions and the private sector.

At a press conference afterwards, Gonzalo Fanjul, Oxfam International's spokesperson in Spain, said: " The EU's sugar policies need an immediate and radical reform. The proposals put forward by the European Commission are not acceptable. They fail to address the needs of producers in the world's poorest countries or those of small-scale European farmers. Today, we saw that there is a broad range of stakeholders who are against the reforms. Oxfam is calling on the EC to listen to everyone affected by the reform and introduce proposals that take into account the needs of the many different people dependent on this industry, not just the biggest richest farmers and the largest processing companies".

Oxfam invited Mrs. Elena Espinosa, the Spanish Minister of Agriculture to the meeting. During the seminar, Espinosa said: " The interest of the small-producers in Spain coincides with the small producers in the LDCs. The price reduction proposed by the EC should be phased in slowly because Spain needs time to adapt, step by step. If there is a sharp price reduction there is no way that the Least Developed Countries will be able to adapt to the change ".

José Chilengue, executive director of the Mozambique Sugar Producers Association and representative of the Least Developed Countries said: " With these reforms, most of our dreams will collapse. The sugar industry is the largest private employer in Mozambique and is a key element for economic development due to its power to reduce poverty. With the proposed sugar reform all this will be under serious threat. We will not survive with these changes ".

The EU's legislative proposals on sugar reform are expected to be announced on June 22.

Contact Information

For more information please contact:
David Viñuales, Oxfam Press Officer, Barcelona: 34 93 482 0842;
34 699 075 282
Amy Barry, Oxfam Press Officer, Oxford: 44 (0)1865 312498;
44 (0) 7980 664397
Louis Bélanger, Oxfam Press Officer, Brussels: 32 2 502 0391;
32 473 562 260