EU preparing to announce end to decades-old sugar subsidies

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Four European countries may see their sugar industries wiped out in a few years as the European Union drastically cuts support prices and production in a sweeping policy reform, an internal document showed yesterday. As EU prices fell, growing sugar beet in Greece, Ireland, Italy and Portugal would quickly become less profitable than other crops such as cereals and oilseeds, it said. The European Commission, the EU’s executive, has called for a wide-ranging reform of sugar policy, barely altered since the late 1960s. It is due to issue its formal reform proposal next week, which will then be discussed by EU agriculture ministers. The proposal will recommend cutting the white sugar support price by 39 percent and the minimum beet price by 42 percent. Both cuts would run over two years, starting in 2006-07.

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