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ACP countries urge the EU to extend Sugar Protocol to 2020
The African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group has resolved to ask the European Commission (EC) to extend its sugar market regime in its current form to 2020.
At the end of the one day joint ministerial meeting in Brussels Tuesday, the EC noted the request of the ACP but made no formal commitments on extending the Sugar Protocol.
Speaking to journalists, the current chair of the European Union, Hungary’s foreign affairs minister, Janos Martony hinted that all financial mechanisms within the Cotonou Agreement will be extended to 2020. This is subject to current discussions with the EC on the future of the Cotonou Agreement, which comes to an end in 2020.
The Sugar Protocol, which provides funding for Accompanying Measures to assist ACP sugar producers adjust their economies to the removal of preferential sugar prices from 2006, expires in 2013.
In the Pacific, Fiji is the sole signatory to the Sugar Protocol and benefits from European Union allocated funding to help reform the country’s sugar industry after loss of preferential sugar prices to the EU.
Fiji’s allocation of €60 million for the period 2007-2010 was suspended and reassigned to rural development projects as a result of the political events of 2006 which saw the removal of the democratically elected government in 2006.
The European Union considered the removal of the elected government as a violation of Cotonou’s essential elements – return to democratic rule, rule of law and to convene free and fair elections.
In February this year, the EU wrote to the Fiji Government confirming that an indicative total of €51,094,000 had been allocated to Fiji for the period 2011-2013 as a financial allocation under the Accompanying Measures for former Sugar Protocol countries.
“The availability of this allocation would be conditional to an agreement in the Article 96 consultation process, said the EU.
The EU remains optimistic that ‘substantative discussions between Fiji and the EU can start again soon in Brussels with the aim of moving the EU/Fiji relationship forward, said the EU in its formal communication to the Fijian Government in March this year.
A six months extension, which ends in September, has been given to the Fijian Government to address the requirements of Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement.
Since 1975, Fiji and 17 other ACP countries have benefited mutually from a long and fruitful relationship in the sugar sector under the terms of the ACP/EU Sugar Protocol.
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