European sugar quotas are to be abolished in 2017, as part of reform of Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), announced by the European Commission this week.

Many in the sugar industry have called for the abolition of these quotas in the past due to the impact it they have had on the price competitiveness of British sugar.

Earlier this month, Roger Waite, spokesperson for Agriculture & Rural Development at the Commission, said that despite the fact EU sugar stocks were increasing, "sugar prices in the EU price monitoring system are €731  per tonne for April, and the gap with the world market (€360 per tonne) remains high".

Speaking on behalf of the UK Industrial Sugar Users Group representing food and drink manufacturers, Gavin Partington, director general of the British Soft Drinks Association, said: "This is a great step forward for the competitiveness of British manufacturing industry and the tens of thousands of jobs that it supports.

"The next challenge is to ensure that sufficient supplies of sugar are available for industry as long as quotas still exist, and to address the prohibitive import tariffs that restrict access to world markets."

The European Sugar Users (CIUS) group also welcomed the compromise found between the EU institutions to end sugar quotas in 2017.

Robert Guichard, president of CIUS, said: "The end of sugar production quotas in 2017 will enable the supply chain to operate in a more market-oriented environment. This is an important step in achieving supply security, which is a prerequisite for economic growth. It will also allow the EU sugar sector to play an increasingly important role on the world market."

The announcement on CAP reforms this week concluded two years of negotiations between European Parliament (EP), EU farm ministers (AGRI Council) and the European Commission (EC).

The reform aims to secure the long term capacity of EU agricultural sector to produce food, enhancing its economic and ecological sustainability, and maintaining the diversity of EU countryside, traditions and farming practices.

Other measures in the reform include ‘greening payments’ which will be paid to farmers who opt for certain sustainable agricultural practices, which are good for biodiversity, soil quality and the environment in general.