Members of the European Parliament voted to extend the controversial sugar quotas until October 2020, in a Agriculture Committee meeting in Brussels last week.

Previous EU agreements have set the sugar quota end-date in 2015, while the European Commission recognised that an end to quotas in 2015 was a necessity to complete the reform agreed in 2006 and deliver a balanced market and a sustainable value chain, said CIUS – the Committee of European Sugar Users.

“The AGRI Committee has failed to recognise the long-term structural imbalance that plagues the EU sugar supply chain,” it said, adding that the decision undermined prospects for new jobs, and growth in the sugar supply chain.

According to CIUS, the present quota system has resulted in major supply shortages and uncompetitive prices. Because of the quota system, EU beet sugar production today falls 20% short of EU demand. EU sugar prices increased by 47% between October 2010 and October 2012, due to artificial shortages, and are now more than 50% higher than world market levels despite decreased production costs.

Robert Guichard, president, CIUS, said: “We are very disappointed. We need a balanced, stable and fair EU sugar market, based on competitive, sustainable domestic production, supplemented by imports to the extent needed. Today’s AGRI Committee vote does nothing to support this goal.”