Published: Wed, 26 June 2013
Sean Kelly MEP (Ireland South) has welcomed the final agreement secured by Minister Simon Coveney on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) providing for the abolition of sugar quotas by 2017.
Speaking in Brussels today, Mr Kelly commented: “Having worked on this issue since my election in 2009 including tabling key amendments on CAP reform calling for an end to sugar quotas by 2017 during the European Parliament negotiations on the future agricultural policy, I welcome today’s agreement on this crucial point.
“The EU is only 85 per cent self-sufficient in sugar since the quota reform. The sugar reform had aimed to introduce competitiveness and efficiency, but quite the opposite was achieved with a loss of revenue, employment and home-grown produce. The sugar beet industry in Ireland was once valued at €150 million a year.”
The EU now pays €40 per tonne more to import sugar than Irish produce would cost, according to Mr Kelly who is a keen advocate of restoring Ireland’s sugar beet industry.
“Today’s deal is a new dawn for the Irish Sugar Industry. 2017 is an ideal end to sugar quotas as this is the target date for opening a new sugar or bio-fuel plant in Ireland. Now that the Council and Parliament have agreed to end quotas in 2017 as part of the final agreement on CAP, stakeholders can now begin to lay real plans for a revival of our once vibrant sugar industry.”
It is understood that €400 million would set up a new sugar factory in Ireland. Mr Kelly is also urging the EU to investigate possible funding options under regional development or cohesion programmes, which could support the regeneration of the industry in the Ireland South-East area.
“Reestablishing the sugar industry will provide a huge jobs boost in Ireland with direct employment at agricultural level, work opportunities in the factory itself and spin-off benefits in the local economy,” added Mr Kelly, a member of the Parliament’s leading Industry Committee.
The Fine Gael MEP also praised Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney’s leadership in securing agreement on CAP under the Irish Presidency.