CAOBISCO, which represents over 2,000 confectionery companies across Europe, has welcomed the European Commission's recent communication on reform of the EU sugar regime, as reported in Confectionery News.The organisation believes that the sugar regime is long overdue for reform.
In a written statement, CAOBISCO claims that the absence of competition in the EU sugar market, and the lack of transparency in its operation, have combined to render the regime controversial and economically disastrous. It goes on to say that the EU sugar regime is also responsible for creating major distortions on the world sugar market.
There is little doubt that this has affected the competitiveness of the European industries reliant on sugar as a major raw material and for producers of sugar in the least developed countries, who cannot compete against such a highly subsidized and over protected price regime. This has been an ongoing criticism of the regime, and was again highlighted in the recent WTO negotiations.
The only winners in the current system, says CAOBISCO, are the sugar processors who, through a totally protected system, have no exposure to the normal commercial rigours of competition. EU sugar users, both end consumers and industrial, pay three and a half times the world price for sugar. This, says the organisation, is simply unsustainable.
"It is clear that there has to be change. And this is an encouraging start to this process," said David Zimmer, secretary general of CAOBISCO. "We have been encouraged by the Commission's involvement of a wide range of stakeholders in the process of preparing for sugar reform. We are further encouraged by the commitment of the Commission to maintain this openness in the process as the debate goes forward."