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Brussels, 2 July 2019
CIBE - CEFS - EFFAT PRESS RELEASE - CONCESSIONS TO MERCOSUR TO PILE PRESSURE ON THE EU SUGAR SECTOR
MERCOSUR: EU offers its biggest ever concession on sugar in the context of a free trade agreement, as the sector remains mired in crisis.
Sugar has again been the trade-off to conclude the deal; the latest in a series that have contributed to the closure of sugar factories across the EU. The overall sugar concession to Mercosur totals 190,000 tonnes: the EU’s biggest ever in the context of a free trade agreement. The deal will entrench unfair competition on the EU market, and hamstring alternative and developing outlets for sugar beet. And it will undermine the three pillars of European sustainability: social, economical and environmental.
The zero duty rate ensures that almost all of this sugar will enter the EU even when prices are low, as currently. Indeed, the EU sugar sector is suffering through the worst crisis in living memory, but in spite of appeals from manufacturers, beet growers, and trade unions, the inaction of the EU has been absolute.
Brazilian sugar, produced for the most part with phytosanitary products that are banned in the EU, will replace European sugar manufactured to the highest environmental and social standards in the world. As such, the deal completely ignores the Member State recommendation, to be found in the draft final report of the High Level Group on Sugar, to correct the “distortions arising from the divergent regulatory regimes on the use of plant protection products.” The complete lack of coherence between the EU’s agricultural and trade policies could not be clearer.
Meanwhile, concessions on ethanol and organic sugar beet will undermine two increasingly important outlets for sugar beet, damaging the long-term competitiveness of the sector. Such outlets are essential if sugar manufacturers are to resist the vagaries of an EU sugar market weighed down by world market distortions.
We urge the European institutions once more to consider the economic contribution of our sector to rural areas: the remunerative, industrial jobs; the 16 billion EUR contributed to the EU’s GDP annually; and the substantial indirect effects that sustain livelihoods across 19 Member States. Our sector is suffering through an unprecedented crisis, but has so far received only empty words from the European institutions.
Accordingly, in the event the deal is approved by the Member States and the European Parliament, these concessions must be enforced in line with the EU’s commitments on environment & climate change and labour rights, and accompanied by appropriate phasing-in. Provisional implementation of the deal should be rejected, since immediate implementation threatens severe damage to our sector, which Commissioner Hogan has himself acknowledged with his commitment to provide up to a billion euros to agriculture in case of market disturbances.
Brussels, 14 June 2019
CIBE PRESS RELEASE - LAST MEETING OF THE HIGH LEVEL GROUP ON SUGAR:
EUROPEAN BEET GROWERS ARE DEEPLY CONCERNED IT COULD FALL SHORT OF EXPECTATIONS
AND STRONGLY FEAR ADDITIONAL CONCESSIONS TO MERCOSUR
European sugar beet growers are concerned by the too prolonged inaction of the EU Commission and of the Member States: they been contemplating the turmoil in the EU beet sugar sector for the past two years without allowing measures that could have helped towards a recovery. Unfortunately, European beet growers also note that the conclusions by the High Level Group on sugar (HLG) risk persisting on this path of inaction. The draft report discussed on 12 June reflects a comprehensive analysis but again Member States expressed different views, did not consider any short-term concrete measures and envisaged few general recommendations.
European sugar beet growers note that despite the highest production standard and quality of their beet, its value is the lowest in the world: during these 2 years without quota, more than 2 billion EUR have been passed from growers and manufacturers to the sugar users. Prices have reached record lows in the EU, hitting growers’ income severely (by at least 30% since October 2017) and putting the European sugar beet sector in the red. In addition, dumping on the world market by third countries has increased. “Obviously there is something wrong in the functioning of the sugar beet supply chain”, CIBE President Eric Lainé stated. “Indeed, the poor 2018/19 crop, the significant adjustment and decrease of EU sugar stocks expected for 2018/19 and 2019/20 and the increase of EU imports do not prevent record low prices. What a destruction of value for our farms and our industry! Today, the sugar companies are planning to close factories in competitive regions, are deciding hastily and putting pressure on sugar beet growers, whilst we should build on our strengths to maintain this sector of excellence”.
Furthermore, the recent decisions regarding the toolbox for plant protection and the costs of alternatives accentuate the non-level playing field with third competitors, putting at risk the sustainability and the investments of the past decade as well as the ability of the sector to attract further investments. Last but not least, the Brexit and the possible additional market concession to be granted to Brazil in the EU-Mercosur negotiations could have further severe impacts on the market and on the sector.
“No fewer than ten meetings between EU Institutions and stakeholders have taken place to discuss the end of quotas, the EU sugar market price crisis and the situation of sugar beet growers. Meetings of the market observatory, the high level group and the civil dialogue group have clearly analysed the situation. This new report accurately reflects the severity of the crisis. But there is a strong risk that the report’s conclusions expected in July will fall short of expectations. Above all, we need support to improve our resilience and to stop market access concessions to third countries. We urge the Commission and the Member States to come with responses, notably on resilience. It is time to act, to be pragmatic. The Commission and the Member States have shown that it is possible to act for other sectors. CIBE and its members will continue to work but would be deeply disappointed and concerned in the event of disengagement from the Commission and the Member States” concluded CIBE President Eric Lainé.
CIBE is recruiting an Office and Communication Coordinator for its team in Brussels.
Download the job posting here.
23 May 2019
PRESS RELEASE: EUROPEAN PRODUCERS MOBILISE TO DEFEND AND PROMOTE
THE EUROPEAN AGRICULTURE AND ITS PRODUCTION MODEL
FruitVegetablesEUROPE (EUCOFEL) has met with like-minded European and national associations in the agricultural sector who are deeply concerned about the European Union’s trade policy on Thursday 23 May 2019, in Brussels.
The decision has been taken to create the “Alliance for the Defense of European Agriculture” (ADEA).
The Alliance is pro-European and calls upon the support of the new Members of the European Parliament to defend and promote European farmers and products, and ensure a level-playing field in trade agreements with third countries.
FruitVegetablesEUROPE’s President, Juan Marín, said: “The Alliance wants greater determination from the EU institutions to insist that all imports of agri-food products meet exactly the same standards imposed on European producers.”
In addition to these food-safety requirements, there needs to be more focus on the environmental and social sustainability criteria when negotiating trade agreements with third countries.
The Alliance collectively demands that:
- European agriculture is not undermined in trade agreements with third countries;
- Imported products respect the same production standards as those imposed on European producers, both in conventional and organic farming;
- European consumers have access to transparent information regarding the differences between EU production models and those of third countries;
- European consumers understand and support the social and cultural aspects of the EU farming.
The Alliance is open to all sectors willing to defend the EU agriculture.
14 May 2019
Open Letter to the EU Commission and the Agri Council 14 May 2019
“Trade for all”: hollow words for the EU beet sugar sector?
Dear Mr Petre Daea, President of the Agri Council and Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Romania,
Dear Agri Ministers of the EU Member States,
Dear EU Commissioners for Agriculture and Trade,
“Trade for all” The EU’s trade policy must work for everyone: defensive as well as offensive sectors, agriculture as well as industry. Regrettably, the EU beet sugar sector has been neglected by trade policy in recent years, and used as a bargaining chip in negotiations. Over the past five years bilateral access to the EU sugar market has increased almost threefold, and now totals over 700,000 tonnes. WTO (CXL) access has also increased, to almost 800,000 tonnes. On the flip side, almost no market access at all has been granted the EU sugar sector in recent free trade negotiations, in particular with Japan and Canada.
We are now faced with a situation where market access for third countries well exceeds market requirements; requirements that will fall substantially with Brexit. The progressive opening of the EU sugar market must stop.
The respect of “EU values” and “EU standards”
EU sugar beet growers and processors are suffering despite having engaged in drastic restructuring to increase their competitiveness and sustainability. Our sector is currently enduring an unprecedented period of hardship. Sugar prices are well below the EU reference threshold – the benchmark for the health of the sector – and insufficient to cover the costs of even the most efficient EU producers. Recent and potentially forthcoming decisions on plant protection products will damage the competitiveness of the sector vis-à-vis third countries and undermine good environmental practices.
At the same time, standards within the Mercosur bloc – and in particular in Brazil – are diverging more and more from ours. The recent decisions in Brazil on deforestation, plant protection or social minorities rights (incl. continuous infringement of indigenous population rights) reflect clearly this divergence. In an open letter, 600 European scientists and 300 indigenous groups call for the EU to insist on the respect for environmental and human rights standards in its current trade negotiations with Brazil. An agreement that fails to take these elements into account would be a betrayal not just of our sector, but of European values.
Agenda 2020 for jobs & growth
The adverse context that we are currently facing will have consequences for the rural communities that are sustained by sugar beet cultivation and processing. Sugar beet processors are planning to close a number of beet factories. Currently the sugar sector provides a sustainable income for 140,000 farmers across the EU, as well as high-quality, industrial, remunerative employment in regions where few alternatives exist.
We urge the Member States to listen to our sector and to defensive interests in general, to resist unreasonable demands from the Mercosur countries, and to express clearly a commitment to an in-quota duty of 98 EUR/tonne for sugar and not a euro less. The EU-Mercosur agreement will shape the perception of the EU for a generation of EU farmers and primary food processors. If the EU’s trade policy fails to work for everyone, the European project, of which EU farmers have so far been supporters, will suffer.
Paul Mesters, President European Association of Sugar Manufacturers (CEFS)
Eric Lainé, President International Confederation of European Beet Growers (CIBE)
9 May 2019
Dear Madam, dear Sir,
We, the undersigned European organisations, are writing to reiterate our concern about the European Court of Justice ruling on case C-528/16 (25 July 2018), by which the Court interpreted the provisions of the EU GMO Directive 2001/18 in such a way that products resulting from innovative, targeted mutagenesis methods are regulated under the provisions of the GMO-Directive.
The introduction of targeted genetic variation in crops and other organisms can help to achieve important sustainable development goals and to contribute to a cleaner environment, to healthy diets, and the protection of biodiversity. It can also contribute to making crops more resilient and better withstand climate change.
The costly and lengthy EU approval process for the products resulting from targeted mutagenesis, combined with potential national cultivation opt-outs under Directive 2001/18, will effectively deprive European farmers & consumers from the benefits of these products. Furthermore, the ruling is hindering the delivery to the market of innovative bio-based products and sustainable industrial, agricultural and healthcare solutions that involve gene-edited microorganisms. Some of the EUs most innovative sectors will effectively be cut off from scientific progress and be put at a competitive disadvantage compared to a rapidly growing group of countries with more enabling regulations.
The ruling is also difficult to implement and virtually impossible to enforce, given that many gene-edited products may be indistinguishable from products changed by natural processes or with conventional breeding techniques, as reconfirmed by the report of the Joint research Centre “Detection of food and feed plant products obtained by new mutagenesis techniques”, published on 26 March 2019.
The report highlights two aspects that are of major importance
1) “For non-unique DNA alterations affecting one or a few DNA base pairs, an applicant may not be able to develop an event-specific method.”
2) “Plant products obtained by genome editing may enter the market undetected. Moreover, if a suspicious product with an unknown or non-unique DNA alteration would be detected on the EU market, it would be difficult or even impossible to provide court-proof evidence that the modified sequence originated from genome editing. “
We are in full agreement with scientists, stakeholders and EU trade partners, that it has become urgent for the EU to adapt its legislation to reflect and welcome technical progress and align it with legislation in other parts of the world. We are committed to engaging with policy makers, stakeholders and all interested parties to work for a constructive, targeted change. Our goal is to obtain practical and science-based rules for products resulting from the latest mutagenesis methods that foster public confidence and trust. This would unlock great potential for a high-performing, innovative and diversified European bio-based solutions in sectors such as plant and animal breeding, agriculture, animal feed, food, healthcare and energy thereby contributing to Europe’s resilience to climate change, and to benefits for consumers, patients and the environment.
Products should not be subject to Directive 2001/18 requirements and related regulations if they could also have been obtained through conventional methods or result from spontaneous processes in nature. We wish to emphasize that this position is also increasingly adopted as a principal regulatory approach in a growing number of countries around the world. It should also create legal certainty for EU operators by avoiding that Member States adopt individual national rules for products resulting from conventional, random mutagenesis. It will furthermore prevent that two otherwise indistinguishable products or organisms are regulated in two different ways, which would open the door to unfair competition with imports from non-EU countries.
We therefore call upon member states and the EU Commission to initiate a legislative change that provides innovation-friendly rules.
Céline Duroc, Director General of MAIZ'EUROP' for the Platform Agriculture and Progress
Patrick Fox, Secretary General Association of Manufacturers and Formulators of Enzyme Products
Dirk Carrez, Executive Director of Bio-based Industries Consortium
Marc Vermeulen, Executive Director of Specialty Chemicals, The European Chemical Industry Council
Marie-Christine Ribera, Director General, European Association of Sugar Manufacturers
Jérôme Bandry, Secretary General, CEMA - European Agricultural Machinery
Elisabeth Lacoste, Director, C.I.B.E.-International Confederation of European Beet Growers
Iliana Axiotiades, Secretary General, European Association of Cereals, Rice, Feedstuffs, Oil Seeds, Olive Oil, Oils and Fats and Agrosupply Trade
Ana Granados Chapatte, Director, European Forum of Farm Animal Breeders
Jean-Philippe Azoulay, Director General, European Crop Protection Association
Bernard Valluis, President, European Flour Milling Association
Patrick FOX, Secretary General, EFFCA - European Food and Feed Cultures Association
Thierry de l'ESCAILLE, Secretary General – CEO, European Landowners' Organization
Raquel Izquierdo, Secretary General, European Potato Trade Association
Susanne Meyer, Secretary General, EUVEPRO - European Vegetable Protein Association
Garlich von Essen, Secretary General,ESA - European Seed Association
Joana DuPont Inglis, Secretary General, EuropaBio – The European Association for Bioindustries
Aleksandra Malyska, Executive Manager, European Technology Platform Plants for the Future
Nick Major, President, European Feed Manufacturers' Federation
Joerg Seifert, Secretary General,FEFANA Asbl - EU Association of SpecialtyFeed Ingredients and their Mixtures
Ernesto Morgado, President, Federation of European Rice Millers
Nathalie Lecocq, Director General, FEDIOL - EU Vegetable Oil and Protein Meal Industry Association
Mella Frewen, Director General, FoodDrinkEurope
Jamie Fortescue, Managing Director, Starch Europe
Sylvie Mamias, Secretary General, UNION FLEURS
Brussels - 19 March 2019
At a crucial turning point regarding the sustainability of sugar beet growing and in an unprecedented EU sugar market crisis, with sugar and beet prices at record lows, CIBE President Eric Lainé highlighted at today’s High Level Group on Sugar the 3 major challenges that sugar beet growers have to face: productivity & competitiveness, resilience and adjustment to markets. CIBE urges the EU Institutions to take concrete action so as to:
• Support sustainability progress in beet growing, in particular with regards to plant protection products, with environmental & economic impact assessments, risk-based decisions with appropriate timing and accompanying measures in terms of innovation and research & development;
• Set-up, as a matter of urgency, workable risk management tools (for example the Income Stabilisation Tool) and safety nets (for example sugar to ethanol scheme and supply control scheme) for sugar beet growers to manage highly volatile markets and market crises;
• Strengthen the position of sugar beet growers’ organizations in the supply chain;
• Further improve transparency on the sugar and high sugar content products markets as well as on isoglucose and ethanol markets;
• Oppose further market access concessions and stop third countries from dumping sugar on world markets.
CIBE President Eric Lainé stated: “European beet growers deplore the time lost and the wait and see strategy of the EU Institutions; we can only observe the major damage of these two years without quotas on our sector. Such a waste! What a destruction of value for our farms and our industry! Today the sector is planning to close factories in competitive regions, forced to decide hastily, to put pressure on sugar beet growers, whilst we should build on our strengths to maintain this sector of excellence”. Furthermore, the recent decisions regarding the toolbox for plant protection and the lack of availability of sustainable alternatives put at risk the investments of the past decade and the ability of the sector to attract further investments. “It is time to act based on reason rather than on ideology, to be pragmatic and to look forward so as to be able to further attract innovation as well as young beet growers to our sector” added CIBE President Eric Lainé.
Press Release - Contact: Elisabeth Lacoste, Director, International Confederation of European Beet Growers (CIBE)
Brussels - 19 September 2018
One year following the end of the quota regime, with world and EU sugar prices having reached historically low levels this summer, well below the reference threshold and the cost of production in the EU, the beet sugar sector in the EU continues to experience severe turbulences. Furthermore, over-restrictive decisions on the use of plant protection products and new breeding techniques are strongly affecting European growers who have always been at the forefront of innovation and implementation of sustainable practices. Taking stock of this adverse situation, European growers call for urgent actions and for a stop to the “wait-and-see policy” of the EU Institutions. Indeed, the current severe crisis endangers the farms’ financial stability and the resilience of the EU beet sugar sector. The only winner of the reform are the sugar-using food and beverage industries, to whom around €1.5 billion value was transferred at the expense of farming families within one year.
• The move of the EU beet sugar sector from a net importer to a net exporter has significantly changed the price structure in the EU. But with production and exports (around 3. 2 Mt in MY2017/18) well behind those from Brazil, India and Thailand, the EU beet sugar sector is not a price maker. World fundamentals, positions of speculators and third countries dumping subsidised sugar on the world market are the cause of price fluctuations and the current collapse of sugar prices (minus 26% in the EU since September 2017).
• The necessary reactions by EU growers to market drivers are being limited and delayed by rigidity, low transparency of contractual framework and the weakening position of beet growers. EU beet sugar production in 2018/19 is expected to decrease, not because of significant beet area decrease but because of severe difficult climatic conditions this summer and poor yields in many regions, amplifying the very bad financial results of farms growing beet. CIBE’s first estimate for 2018/19 shows a decrease of EU production by around 2.4 Mt.
• The recent EU decisions against the use of plant protection products in pelleted beet seed and against the use of new breeding techniques further jeopardize the current and future competitiveness of the sector vis-à-vis third countries.
• The resilience of the EU beet sugar sector is put at risk because of the absence of appropriate safety nets and risk management tools and because of the impossibility for growers to hedge their margin and income.
To maintain sustainable beet growing in the EU, vibrant rural communities and high-quality products as aimed for by the EU Institutions, CIBE calls for:
1- Further progress in the clarity of the sugar beet contractual framework: CIBE calls for more transparency in establishing beet contracts, prices, indicators, value sharing clauses, possibility for growers to hedge on markets and a ban on unfair trading practices.
2- Access to efficient risk management tools: CIBE calls for the available “toolbox” for farmers to be adapted to deal with the inevitable climatic risks and higher volatility of prices, margins and revenues. For example, the introduction of the Income Stabilisation Tool in the beet sugar sector should be rapidly envisaged and supported by the EU and the Member States. The implementation of adequate safety net in the next CAP 2021-2027 must also materialize: indeed, the current tools (aid for private storage, CMO provision in case of market imbalances) are not workable to limit the collapse of beet growers’ income.
3- Time and financial support to respond to the ban on plant protection products and to develop alternative sustainable products and practices are crucial.
4- A level playing field with third countries: CIBE calls for a stop to granting market access concessions and to put pressure on countries dumping subsidised sugar on the world market. EU growers are the most sustainable and efficient growers in the world but they cannot compete against competitors which can use plant protection products banned in the EU, they cannot compete with Brazilian currency depreciation, they cannot compete with the export subsidies implemented by some countries.
Press Release - Contact: Elisabeth Lacoste, Director, International Confederation of European Beet Growers (CIBE)
CIBE-CEFS-EFFAT JOINT LETTER
TRADE FOR ALL: THE EU-MERCOSUR NEGOTIATIONS
Brussels - 4 June 2018
Dear President Juncker,
Representing European sugar manufacturers, sugar beet growers, and employees respectively, CEFS, CIBE and EFFAT are watching with concern the ongoing EU-Mercosur trade negotiations.
We would like to recall the theme of the Commission’s current trade strategy, which is ‘trade for all’. We recognise the importance of opening overseas markets for EU products. But the EU’s trade policy must work for everyone: defensive as well as offensive sectors, agriculture as well as industry.
The EU beet sugar sector has been neglected by trade policy in recent years, and used as a bargaining chip in negotiations. Over the past five years bilateral access to the EU sugar market has increased almost threefold, and now totals over 700,000 tonnes. WTO (CXL) access has also increased, to almost 800,000 tonnes.
These agreements were concluded well after the 2006 decision to abolish sugar quotas, which has transformed the EU from a net importer to a net exporter. We are now faced with a situation where market access for third countries well exceeds market requirements. These requirements will incidentally fall substantially with Brexit.
EU sugar beet growers and processors are suffering despite having engaged in drastic restructuring to increase their competitiveness and sustainability. Our sector is currently enduring an unprecedented period of hardship. Sugar prices are well below the EU reference threshold – the benchmark for the health of the sector – and insufficient to cover the costs of even the most efficient EU producers. Recent and potentially-forthcoming decisions to ban plant protection products will damage the competitiveness of the sector vis-à-vis third countries and undermine good environmental practices.
This adverse context will have consequences for the rural communities that are sustained by sugar beet cultivation and processing. The sugar sector provides a sustainable income for 140,000 farmers across the EU, as well as high-quality, industrial, remunerative employment in regions where few alternatives exist.
We implore the European Commission, European Parliament, and Member States to listen to the EU sugar sector and to defensive interests in general and to resist unreasonable demands from the Mercosur countries. The EU-Mercosur agreement will shape the perception of the EU of a generation of EU farmers and primary food processors. If the EU’s trade policy fails to work for everyone, the European project, of which EU farmers have so far been supporters, will suffer.
Johann Marihart, President European Association of Sugar Manufacturers (CEFS)
Eric Lainé President International Confederation of European Beet Growers (CIBE)
Harald Wiedenhofer, Secretary General European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions (EFFAT)