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Parliamentary questions
8 February 2011
E-010572/10E-010617/10
Joint answer given by Mr Cioloş on behalf of the Commission
Written questions : E-010572/10 , E-010617/10

The reform of the sugar sector was based on a voluntary system of quota renunciation underpinned in particular by a temporary restructuring fund. The choice of abandoning or keeping production was to be made by every sugar producing company bearing in mind that in the future they would have to secure their long-term profitability in a situation of substantially lower institutional prices. According to the Commission's analysis, most quotas were renounced in Member States with a low competitiveness at the field and/or factory level under the voluntary system.

If sugar producers are facing problems of competitiveness now, at a moment where the EU sugar price is above reference price levels, fuelled by very high world market prices, this might be due to a misjudgment of the company's competitive position by the management. The Commission considers that it is the management's task to ensure the economically efficient exploitation of the remaining sugar factories.

The conversion of sugar factories into bioethanol factories was one of the options available under the temporary restrucutring scheme for the sugar industry. For this conversion to be economically viable in the long term, not only the factory, but also beet producers have to be able to produce at competitive prices.

Beet producers received a share of the company's restructuring aid and workers benefitted from a social plan, which was an obligatory element of each restructuring application. Member States had the choice to impose national specific requirements for the social and environmental commitments in each company's restructuring plan, going beyond the statutory minimum requirements imposed by Community law. In addition to this, for each tonne of sugar quota renounced by a producer, a certain amount of diversification aid was granted to the Member State for diversification measures in the regions concerned. This diversification aid allowed Member States to address any negative side effects of the restructuring of the sugar industry they had identified in a flexible and targeted manner.

The restructuring period is not over yet, especially as the deadlines for the implementation of companies' restructuring plans and Member States' diversification programmes have been extended by one year to 30 September 2011 to take account of delays caused by the economic crisis. This is why there is no assessment available yet on the direct and indirect social, economic and environmental effects of the sugar reform. In line with the Directorate-General for Agriculture (DG AGRI) multi-annual evaluation plan 2010‑12, the evaluation of Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) measures applied to the sugar sector will be carried out in 2010‑11. The evaluation will examine the impact of CAP measures applied to the sugar supply chain, including the farm sector and sugar producers and refiners, since the reform was adopted in 2006. The impact of diversification aid on regions affected by restructuring should also be examined in this evaluation (on the basis of case studies).

OJ C 279 E, 23/09/2011
Last updated: 14 March 2011Legal notice