Oxfam: EU sugar reform plans will hurt poorest
Proposed European Union sugar reforms will hurt the poorest and most vulnerable farmers in Europe and the developing world and will not end dumping, international agency Oxfam said as agriculture ministers met today in Brussels to discuss the plans for the first time.
Luis Morago, Head of Oxfam's Office in Brussels said: "Reform is urgently needed but these proposals are unacceptable. They will not end EU overproduction and export dumping and do nothing to harness the potential of sugar production to reduce poverty. The steep, sharp price cut will hurt poor countries that depend on selling their sugar to Europe and small producers in Europe. Member States should reject this package and call for reforms that help poor farmers at home and abroad."
The current proposals include a price cut of 39% for white sugar and 42% for beet, to be phased in over two years from 2006. A compensation fund of €6,000m euros will be available for EU producers and there will be a "buy-out scheme" to help them leave the sector. African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, who are currently allowed to sell their sugar to Europe at high prices, will get €40m in 2006 to help them adapt to the changes.
Morago: "The difference between the compensation packages for EU producers and for African ones exposes the double standards and selfishness at the heart of the Commission's proposals. Some of the poorest countries in the world can grow sugar much more efficiently than Europeans but they are being left high and dry by these proposals. This calls into question the EU's stated commitment to tackling global poverty."
A large group of less efficient European producers, including Spain, Ireland and Italy, are expected to raise strong objections at today's meeting. This will add to the concerns already voiced by many developing countries about the impact of the proposed reforms on their sugar industries, as well as the inadequacy of the package of adjustment assistance they have been offered.
Morago: "Agriculture Ministers must listen to the developing world about the impact of these changes on the livelihoods of tens of thousands of poor sugar workers and their families."
Oxfam is calling for more gradual price cuts over a longer period of time; quota cuts for European production; an end to EU export dumping; improved access to the EU for developing country sugar; and a package of adjustment assistance for poor countries commensurate with their needs.
For further information, please contact:
Louis Bélanger, Brussels: 32 2 502 0391 or 32 473 562 260, or
Amy Barry, Oxford, 44 (0)1865 312254