Our latest News
The EU-Mercosur negotiations: in defence of the 98 EUR/tonne duty
Dear Commissioner Malmström,
CEFS, CIBE and EFFAT understand that in the context of the ongoing trade negotiations the European Commission has offered the Mercosur countries an annual tariff-rate quota of 100,000 tonnes of sugar at 98 EUR/tonne duty. This is a substantial quantity that is higher than the annual output of some factories.
The Commission has so far rightly resisted pressure to reduce the in-quota duty to below 98 EUR/tonne. The 98 EUR/tonne duty, as currently applied to the Brazilian WTO (or ‘CXL’) tariff rate quota, is essential to prevent damage to the sector in the ongoing discussions, for the following reasons:
- The 98 EUR/tonne duty levels the playing field somewhat between the EU and Brazil. The Brazilian sugar-ethanol industry benefits from a range of government support measures that allow them to sell at below cost prices. From 2020 the sector will receive a further financial incentive to increase production, with the entry into operation of RenovaBio – its credit-based biofuels promotion programme, which the Brazilian government expects to incentivise the construction of 20 new sugar-ethanol mills. Further, the Brazilian sector is subject to less stringent social and environmental standards – and therefore lower costs – than EU producers and growers.
- The 98 EUR/tonne offers some buffer against the erratic movement of the Brazilian Real (BRL) against the Euro. The former bottomed at 4.7 BRL/EUR in September 2015, having dropped from a high of 2.6 BRL/EUR in March 2013. It currently stands at around 4 BRL/EUR, and is still falling in value. The continued weakness of the Real against the Euro supports the competitiveness of Brazil’s exports, allowing them to undercut European sugar producers.
- Further duty-free market opening would depress EU sugar prices below even their current depressed levels. At this time, the EU average white sugar price is at its lowest level since the establishment of the European Commission Price Reporting System almost twelve years ago. It is below the EU industry’s average production costs, and therefore not sustainable. But the Commission expects these conditions to persist until at least 2030. The reluctance of the Commission to divide the EU’s bilateral tariff-rate quotas between the UK and the EU-27 raises the risk of more duty-free sugar available on the EU market.
We urge the European Commission and Member States to stand firm in support of the 98 EUR/tonne duty.
Johann Marihart, President, European Association of Sugar Manufacturer (CEFS)
Bernard Conzen, President, International Confederation of European Beet Growers (CIBE)
Harald Wiedenhofer, Secretary General European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions (EFFAT)
Dear Ms Malmström / Dear Mr Hogan,
We understand that the EU-Mercosur negotiations are at a crucial point. On behalf of European sugar manufacturers (CEFS), European sugar beet growers (CIBE), and sugar sector employees (EFFAT) we call on the EU to resist pressure from Brazil to offer further market access concessions on sugar.
The EU sugar sector is currently undergoing a major reform that is having a dramatic impact on the European sugar market. The end of sugar quotas, combined with a depressed world market, have generated prices that are at their lowest level since the establishment of the European Commission Price Reporting System almost twelve years ago. According to the Commission’s most recent medium-term outlook these market conditions could last until 2030; they have already resulted in the closure of one beet sugar factory in Romania in January of this year.
The EU sugar market cannot sustain further opening without further damage to prices and to the sector. Brazil already enjoys the single largest access quota of any third country to the EU market, and is the dominant global exporter. Its developed system of government support means that its producers are able to sell their sugar at below cost prices, and the sugar cane sector will receive a massive financial incentive from 2020 with the entry into operation of RenovaBio – its credit-based biofuels promotion programme. Brazilian sugar producers benefit from lower social and environmental standards that are the subject of public criticism, while despite a common drive towards greater sustainability, EU beet growers and producers struggle to conform to ever-more stringent rules and meet ever-growing societal expectations. In this context, which is marked by further uncertainty owing to Brexit, it is no exaggeration to say that market opening to Brazil would be nothing less than catastrophic for the economic sustainability of our sector.
This matters. Our sector plays a unique role in the fabric of the EU rural economy. It offers high-quality industrial employment in regions were few alternatives exist. It produces not only sugar, but a range of products, such as animal feed and ethanol, that support the competitiveness of livestock producers and fermentation industries, among others. And sugar beet plays an important agronomic role in crop rotation for farmers. Crucially, the capital- and knowledge-intensive nature of sugar production means that once closed down, it is highly unlikely that a factory will re-open its doors. In other words, once sugar leaves a region, it is gone forever.
For these reasons we ask for extreme consideration in the ongoing negotiations.
Bernhard Conzen, President of the International Confederation of European Beet Growers (CIBE)
Joahnn Marihart, President of the European Association of Sugar Manufacturers (CEFS)
Harald Wiedenhofer, Secretary General, European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions (EFFAT)
Registrations are open to CIBE members only! For more information about the Congress and to register, click here.
On behalf of the Belgian beet growers, I am pleased to welcome all participants and accompanying persons to the 45th CIBE Congress in Ghent.
Brussels, February 2018
This year's Congress takes place in a special context. It is the first C.I.B.E. Congress in the post- quota era. Furthermore, there are the intensive discussions on the future CAP. Against this highly challenging background, we will discuss the following key issues:
- The position of beet growers in the supply chain,
- The risk management tools and the future of the CAP,The impact of longer beet processing campaigns,
- The developments in EU and global sugar markets,
- The challenges related to plant protection products,
- The role of beet in the EU Bioeconomy.
Ghent is a city and municipality in the Flemish Region of Belgium. It is the capital and largest city of the East Flanders province and, second after Antwerp, the largest municipality of Belgium. The city started as a settlement at the confluence of the rivers Scheldt and Leie. In the Late Middle Ages it became one of the largest and richest cities of northern Europe. It is a port and University City.
Ghent is a historic venue, but also a contemporary one. The modern daily life of the city’s active inhabitants plays itself out against a gorgeous historical backdrop. In Ghent, they live, work and enjoy life over and over again each day. Lonely Planet classifies Ghent among the ten most beautiful cities in the world. Ghent is a lively place and bids you a warm welcome.
This Congress will also be the occasion to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our Belgian beet growers association and the 80th anniversary of its coordinating committees. Therefore, we invite you to a cocktail followed by a gala dinner on Thursday 17 May in the majestic Opera of Ghent.
I am confident that this Congress will be very rewarding, both technically and culturally.
Marcel Jehaes, President of CBB
CIBE FACTSHEET ON NEONICOTINOIDS - DECEMBER 2017
The case for neonicotinoids in pelleted sugar beet seeds: why sugar beet growers call for a specific consideration with regards to neonicotinoids. Download
CIBE NOTE: THE CASE FOR NEONICOTINOIDS IN PELLETED SUGAR BEET SEEDS - JANUARY 2018
Within the context of the current debate on neonicotinoids, CIBE wisheds to explain with the present note that the use of neonicotinoid-treated beet seed pellets is a good agricultural practice in sustainable sugar beet growing. Download
ITB NOTE: VIRUS YELLOWS OF SUGAR BEET - NEW PROPAGATATION OF THE DISEASE IF THE SEED COATING BY NEONICOTINOIDS IS STOPPED WITHOUT AN ALTERNATIVE SOLUTION - SEPTEMBER 2017
The yellow virus is an endemic disease of sugar beet. It is currently perfectly contained thanks to seed coating containing insecticides from the neonicotinoid family. Download
CIBE NOTE: SUGAR BEET VIRUS YELLOWS - YIELD IMPACTS (TRIALS 934BE) - OCTOBER 2017
Additional information for note of September 2017. Download
ITB NOTE: SUGAR BEET VIRUS YELLOWS - YIELD IMPACTS (TRIAL 934DE) - OCTOBER 2017
Additional information for note of September 2017. Download
ITB NOTE: EXPOSURE OF POLLINATING INSECTS TO NEONICOTINOIDS BY GUTTATION ON STRAW CEREALS AFTER A SUGAR BEET TREATED BY SEED COATING - NOVEMBER 2017
At the early stage of their growth, sugar beets are protected from pest insects and notably from aphild vectors of virus yellows with neonicotinoid treatments by seed coating. Download
Brussels, 21 November 2017
CIBE, CEFS, COPA-COGECA and EFFAT
strongly warn the European Commission to reject any attempt to include sugar in the revised trade offer to Mercosur
This statement comes as the EU plans to modify its market access offer to Mercosur to include sensitive products, among them sugar, during the next round of trade talks between 4 and 10 December.
The Commission risks once again failing to maintain a firm line on sugar in its trade negotiations. EU sugar beet growers, sugar producers, and workers stand determined: we will not pay for the offensive interests of other industrial sectors or for those of the Brazilian state-supported sugar-ethanol regime.
CIBE President Bernhard Conzen explained: “the European Commission is actually asking beet growers and processors to make sacrifices for Brazilian interests, which is totally unacceptable. Ever higher standards for ever lower prices for us, and ultimately importing lower standards, is incomprehensible and a nonsense for farmers. This must stop or we are heading for a major and very painful crisis.”
Further opening of the EU sugar market would be to the severe detriment of the EU beet sugar sector and would imperil many of the 140,000 farmers, 30,000 employees, and hundreds of rural communities whose livelihoods depend on the sector. It would undermine the sustainability and dynamics of the sector at a time of unprecedented uncertainty following the end of production quotas from 1 October 2017. The risk of further factory closures is high, warned CEFS President Johann Marihart and EFFAT Secretary General Harald Wiedenhofer. This would have serious consequences for the vulnerable rural areas supported by the industrial jobs and high-quality employment that beet sugar production provides.
“There is no level playing field between the EU and Brazil; the Commission continues to dream that our sector is able to handle further opening up of the market without consequences, and continues to hide from reality: this is irresponsible” noted Johann Marihart, adding: “The Commission might as well tell us which factories in the EU would have to close.”
“The European sugar sector delivers safe, quality jobs. It is crystal clear that the sector would be a loser in that deal. The employment impact could be devastating. Is this the future workforce strategy of Europe after the promises of the Gothenburg Social Summit?” asked Mr. Harald Wiedenhofer.
Copa and Cogeca Secretary General Pekka Pesonen concluded: “We need fair and balanced trade agreements that ensure that we do not have surpluses on our market. EU farmers and their cooperatives should not be penalized when the EU negotiates free trade deals. They cannot afford additional income losses resulting from a trade deal which puts more pressure on the EU sugar, ethanol and beef markets in a trade deal. In the sugar and ethanol sectors, there is no level playing field with the Mercosur countries which have developed sophisticated domestic support schemes. We are already a major net importer of agricultural produce from these countries and by increasing their access to our market, there would be a further risk of deforestation in these countries at the expense of the climate. We urge the Commission to show determination and leadership in these negotiations. We call on Member States not to make another blow to the EU agriculture sector which is vital for the economies of our rural areas.”
European sugar beet growers warn that their productivity and sustainable practices are under threat
9 November 2017 - Chantilly (France)
At their annual Technical and Reception Control Committee today in Chantilly, France, European beet growers discussed various issues related to growing, harvesting and delivering beet to the sugar factory. Fundamental changes are at work with the end of quotas and with the possibilities of using of plant protection products that deeply impact the way farmers grow and deliver their beet.
Longer campaign, flat rate crown system, reception of whole beet have been debated between beet growers from the EU and Switzerland. Jean Pierre Dubray, Chair of this Committee, stressed that “beet growers have always been in favour of modernization and simplification of beet delivery, but under the condition that the risks and benefits be equitably shared between growers and processors and we note that this balance is not there in many regions. Furthermore, the profound changes that are taking place put more pressure on growers and necessitate more than ever an increased technical competence and close monitoring throughout the long beet season, from seedbed preparation via sowing and growing to the storage and delivery of beet.”
The extremely challenging context with regards to plant protection products was also extensively discussed. European growers cannot but note that sustainable practices are today challenged or banned, and innovation restricted. Over the past two decades, many plant protection products have been withdrawn, and good farming practices have already developed considerably in beet growing in the EU. However, today ideological positions prevail. “This is all the more incomprehensible for our sector, whose strength comes from its high sustainability” added Jean-Pierre Dubray.
“We sound the alarm to the EU Institutions and to the Member States because hasty and unjustified decisions with regards to plant protection products, in particular on glyphosate and neonicotinoids used in pelleted beet seed, would set us back 20 years with unsustainable practices and would jeopardize the sustainability of our sector to the benefit of imported sugar from third countries”. “European beet growers remain committed to further improve their productivity and to work with the Institutions to further develop their good practices, under the condition that they are given the means to do so”, concluded Jean-Pierre Dubray.
Download the Press Release here.
|European beet growers including Swiss beet growers will discuss various issues and new developments related to growing, harvesting and delivering beet to the sugar factory. They will also visit the Tereos sugar factory in Chevrières, Oise (France).|
CIBE CALL TO THE AGRI COUNCIL
Brussels, 6 November 2017
Ahead of the next Agri Council on 6th November, where the state of play of trade-related agricultural issues will be discussed, CIBE would like to reiterate its serious concerns vis-à-vis the ongoing negotiations with Mercosur and Mexico and vis-à-vis the upcoming negotiations with Australia.
European sugar beet growers consider that sugar market access concessions to Mercosur, Mexico and Australia should be excluded for the following reasons:
The EU sugar beet sector could not sustain constantly further concessions granted to more third countries. The EU sugar market is not intended to become a market for third countries’ constant surplus. This would be extremely damaging for our EU beet sugar industry, in particular as no specific access for EU sugar has been concluded and no access for EU sugar is envisaged in ongoing negotiations.
We urge the EU Institutions to stop considering the EU beet sugar sector as a bargaining chip in all the EU’s trade negotiations and to assess the overall consequences of the current stance on sugar by the EU Commission in its negotiating strategy.
Environment Committee’s vote on RED II wrongly penalises biofuels
Brussels, 24 October 2017 – The European Parliament Environment Committee’s vote to phase-out the use of biofuels by 2030 seriously undermines the EU’s climate and sustainability objectives. It diverges sharply from the latest draft proposal from the EU Council, which safeguards the role of biofuels in the renewable energy framework.
Ahead of the vote in the Environment Committee, the Green Rapporteur MEP Eickhout highlighted that the “beneficiary” of the recast of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED II) “should be the climate”. But his proposal falls short of ambition in this sense, since it does not include a dedicated target for the use of renewable energy in the transport sector and calls for a phase out of biofuels, which are essential in agricultural sustainability and represent the most cost-effective and readily available solution to decarbonise the transport sector. Beyond that, it prevents the potential of valorisation of EU agricultaralbiomass.
Speaking on behalf of the eight associations representing the EU Biofuel Chain, Copa and Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen stated: “The EU should create a policy framework which supports all sustainable forms of renewable energy and contributes to the reduction of fossil fuels’ use and protein feed imports. EU biofuels have proven to do all that. ”.
In particular, the development of crop-based biofuels has resulted in some 35 Mt of gross avoided CO2 emissions in 2013. The deployment of renewable energies in transport led to a 116 Mtoe drop in EU demand for fossil fuels and, more importantly for the EU’s security of supply, to savings of €30 billion per year thanks to avoided imported fuel costs. Moreover, the production of biofuels from arable crops triggers the co-production of high-value protein meal and other animal feed which replace 4 to 5 million hectares of imported feedstock. This increases the EU protein self-sufficiency and avoids environmental impacts elsewhere.
All these benefits, however, have been disregarded in the Environment Committee’s vote to the advantage of the fossil fuel industry. As declared by Nathalie Lecocq, Director General of FEDIOL : “The Environment Committee has focused all its efforts in trying to get rid of biofuels on the basis of alleged sustainability risks. In doing so, it has completely overlooked the big picture, which is the fact that 95% of EU road transport still relyies on fossil fuels”.
In this regard, while welcoming the enhanced focus on new technology biofuels proposed in the Environment Committee’s opinion, the EU Biofuel Chain regrets the adopted approach which opts to further develop an industry at the expense of the existing one. It is essential for the EU to recognise the role of the biofuels industry in the development of new technology biofuels: enabling long-term investments in them will require the involvement of the investors of crop-based biofuels
Ahead of the vote in EP Committee for Agriculture and EP Committee of Environment on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources, CIBE and CEFS would like to react to the arguments of molasses users, notably by the chemical industry, which have been lobbying hard to convince MEPS that there is and there will be a supply issue if beet molasses is used to produce biofuels. This is absolutely not true and there is no evidence for such misinformation.