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CIBE-CEFS OPEN LETTER TO THE EU COMMISSION AND THE AGRI COUNCIL

 

14 May 2019

 

Open Letter to the EU Commission and the Agri Council 14 May 2019

 

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“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.

 

Yours Faithfully,

 

Paul Mesters, President European Association of Sugar Manufacturers (CEFS)

Eric Lainé, President International Confederation of European Beet Growers (CIBE)

 

 

14 May 2019
JOINT LETTER EU COURT RULING ON MUTAGENESIS - SCOPAFF 25 APRIL

 

 

 

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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.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

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

 

 

 

23 Apr 2019
CIBE PRESS RELEASE: EUROPEAN BEET GROWERS MAKE AN URGENT APPEAL TO THE COMMISSION AND MEMBER STATES ON THE OCCASION OF THE HIGH LEVEL GROUP ON SUGAR

 

 

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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) 

 

 

19 Mar 2019
CIBE PRESS RELEASE: THE CURRENT CRISIS IN THE EU BEET SUGAR SECTOR IS WITHOUT PRECEDENT: CIBE CALLS FOR URGENT RESPONSES AND ACTION

 

 

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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) 

 

 

19 Sep 2018
CIBE-CEFS-EFFAT JOINT LETTER - TRADE FOR ALL: THE EU-MERCOSUR NEGOTIATIONS

 

CIBE-CEFS-EFFAT JOINT LETTER

TRADE FOR ALL: THE EU-MERCOSUR NEGOTIATIONS

 

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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.

 

Yours Faithfully,

 

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)

 

 

04 Jun 2018
JOINT LETTER - EU BIOFUEL CHAIN OUTREACH TO COUNCIL ON INCLUSION OF 7% CONVENTIONAL BIOFUELS IN BLENDING OBLIGATIONS ON FOSSIL FUEL SUPPLIERS

 

EU BIOFUEL CHAIN OUTREACH TO COUNCIL

ON INCLUSION OF 7% CONVENTIONAL BIOFUELS IN BLENDING OBLIGATIONS ON FOSSIL FUEL SUPPLIERS

 

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30 May 2018
CIBE CONGRESS RESOLUTIONS - 45TH CIBE CONGRESS, GHENT

 

CIBE CONGRESS RESOLUTIONS: XLV CIBE Congress - 16-18 May 2018

 

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17 May 2018
CIBE PRESS RELEASE: EUROPEAN SUGAR BEET GROWERS DEEPLY CONCERNED BY GLOOMY OUTLOOK

 

CIBE PRESS RELEASE:

EUROPEAN SUGAR BEET GROWERS DEEPLY CONCERNED BY GLOOMY OUTLOOK

 

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Ghent - 17 May 2018 - European Beet Growers held their 45th Congress in Ghent from 16th to 18th May 2018. They examined the main economic and political issues currently facing beet growing in Europe and the situation of the world sugar economy, with a special focus on the current market crisis. High level speakers, including Belgium’s Federal Minister for Independents and Agriculture Denis Ducarme, representatives of the European Commission and Secretary General of Copa-Cogeca Pekka Pesonen, participated in this event which gathered around 250 delegates and guests.

 

“European Beet Growers are extremely worried, all their fears expressed at our previous congress in 2015 are materializing. The collapse in world market prices which reached a six-year low recently, undermined this first year without quotas when EU production has been liberalised. The EU average sugar market price dropped as well and is currently at its lowest level ever, well below the sugar reference threshold. This is of course impacting beet prices and beet income all over Europe. Beet growers will have to face their lowest income to date. This is also the consequence of a weakened position vis-à-vis beet processors. If you add to this the incomprehensible recent decision by the EU Commission to ban neonics in pelleted beet seed, without even a phasing-out, it is too much” emphasised newly elected CIBE President Eric Lainé.

 

One session of the Congress was dedicated to new developments in the protection of beet and in new beet varieties. Innovation and precision farming in beet growing, harvesting and delivering were addressed. “Beet growers have always been at the forefront of innovation and good practices. But you need to be profitable to further invest in these developments. The situation of beet growers and arable farmers in general is very difficult now and in fact our previous investments are jeopardized” stated Eric Lainé.

 

Discussions also focused on the perspective on world markets, on market transparency, on the contractual framework and value-sharing clauses between growers and processors as well as on consequences of increased campaign length and risk management tools. President Eric Lainé stressed: “On all these topics, the situation has fallen far short of expectations. We welcome the results of the Omnibus Regulation but the urgent need for EU legislators to strengthen the role of farmers along the supply chain and to make farmers more resilient should now be addressed; appropriate tools of which risk management tools, need to be put in place in our beet growing countries. With ever stricter standards and more opening up of the EU market, and increasingly less level playing field on the world market and ever lower ambition in the development of EU bioethanol, without protection of our revenue and risk management tools such a situation is not sustainable. We fear very negative and irreversible developments”.

 

European beet growers called on the EU Institutions and the Member States to support concrete measures to manage and mitigate this strongly adverse context, to improve the position of beet growers and to improve the resilience of the sector, including: a prohibition of unfair trading practices, enhanced market transparency, implementation of risk management tools and introduction of financial support for research and development to maintain the highest level of sustainability in beet growing.

 

The full CIBE Congress resolutions adopted by its Board of Directors and presented by the CIBE President in his closing speech of the Congress are available on www.cibe-europe.eu.

 

 

 

 

17 May 2018
JOINT LETTER: CIBE, COPA-COGECA, EOA, EPURE AND CEPM CALL TOGETHER FOR A STABLE LONG TERM POLICY FOR INVESTMENTS IN BIOFUEL SECTOR

 

CIBE, COPA-COGECA, EOA, EPURE AND CEPM JOINT LETTER:

TRILOGUE NEGOTIATIONS ON THE RECAST OF THE EU DIRECTIVE ON THE PROMOTION OF RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES

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17 May 2018
CIBE-CEFS PRESS RELEASE - THE EU SUGAR MARKET SITUATION: AN UNPRECEDENTED PRICE DECLINE

 

JOINT PRESS RELEASE CIBE-CEFS:

THE EU SUGAR MARKET SITUATION: AN UNPRECEDENTED PRICE DECLINE

 

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Brussels - 9 May 2018 - At 372 EUR/tonne in February 2018, the EU average white sugar price is currently at its lowest level since the establishment of the European Commission Price Reporting System in July 2006, and down by more than 25 per cent since August 2017. It is almost ten per cent below the white sugar reference threshold, the only objective benchmark that exists to monitor the health of the sector. And it is far below EU average production costs.

 

Current sugar prices are not sustainable for beet and sugar production. This is confirmed by press reports that even the most competitive producers are sustaining heavy losses (1).

 

Unfortunately, calls from the European Commission for the sector to regulate itself take no account of market realities.

 

- Sugar production is up by logic: relative high world market prices at the end of 2016 and the abolition of quotas led to higher production. Higher production also allows for a greater distribution of fixed costs, increasing operators’ competitiveness in a more liberal environment characterised by increased competition.

 

- Meanwhile, low world market prices are dragging down the EU market. Sugar exports, while greater than under the quota system, are restricted by current world market price levels, debasing a major outlet. Substantial zero- and reduced-tariff import quotas set up since 2013, along with complete market opening to the ACP/LDC, prevents the gap between EU prices and world prices from exceeding 100 EUR/tonne for any sustained period. But world market prices do not reflect economic realities: as a residual dump market, world sugar prices are depressed in large part by subsidised production and exports from Brazil, Thailand, Pakistan, and India, and by excess production pushed onto the world market by a host of smaller players that is often sold at below cost.

 

If the gap between current EU prices and those until September 2017 remains at the present level, the net transfer of wealth from the sugar sector (farmers and industry) to secondary processors and retailers will be at least 2 billion EUR by the end of 2018.

 

We urge the European Commission and Member States to take account of the escalating crisis in the sector, and to consider ways to minimise the ongoing and potentially irreversible damage to farmers, workers, and sugar manufacturers.

 

(1) Reuters. 3 April 2018. EU sugar companies struggle to survive as prices plunge post-quotas.

 

 

 

 

09 May 2018