Italy facing EU court for failure to collect €1.34bn milk quota superlevies


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Italy facing EU court for failure to collect €1.34bn milk quota superlevies

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The European Commission (EC) is taking Italy to court for failing to collect €1.34bn (US$1.5bn) of European Union (EU) milk quota fines from offending dairy farmers.

It announced yesterday that it had referred Italy to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) for "failing to meet its responsibilities adequately with regard to managing the recovery of the levy for overproduction of milk."

Under the EU milk quota system, introduced in 1984 to address overproduction, Member States are issued a fine - called a superlevy - of €27.83 (US$31.20) per 100kg for exceeding their quotas.

Each Member States has two quotas - one for deliveries to processors and the other for direct sales at farm level.

Italy overshot its national quota every year from 1995 to 2009.

The Italian State paid the €2.305bn (US$2.58bn) clocked up in fines over the period.

"However, despite repeated requests by the Commission, the Italian authorities have clearly not taken appropriate measures to effectively recover the levy payable from the individual producers/dairies,"​ said an EC statement.

"This undermines the quota regime and distorts competition with those producers who respected their quotas and those who have taken steps to pay their individual superlevy bills. As underlined with the Italian Court of Auditors, this is also unfair on Italian taxpayers."

"Third and final step"

Of the €2.305bn paid in fines, €1.752bn (US$1.96bn) has not been recovered by the Italian government.

The EC accepts that a portion has been "lost or is covered by a 14-year staging plan."

It estimates that around €1.343bn in fines are unaccounted for. 

Italy's referral to the CJEU is the "third and final step"​ taken by the EC to encourage its recovery of the unpaid penalties.

In June 2013, it was sent a formal notice, followed by a reasoned opinion in July 2014.

"As Italy has shown no significant progress in the recovery, the case is now referred to the Court of Justice,​" the EC statement concluded.

Ministero delle Politiche Agricole Alimentari e Forestali (The Italian Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies), which oversees Italy's adherence to EU milk quotas, failed to respond to request for comment when contacted by

In the 2013/2014 season, which ended on March 31 2014, Italy produced less milk than permitted under the EU milk quota system.

The quota system is incidentally scheduled to be abolished on April 1 2015. 

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