Opposition to EU sugar deal not sufficient

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Four EU farm ministers will reject a hard-won political deal to overhaul European sugar policy at a vote next week but there is no doubt that the reform will be rubber-stamped into EU law, diplomats said on Friday. After days and nights of tough negotiations last November, the ministers struck a compromise deal to reform EU sugar policy, slashing support prices and also production and exports in a phased program that will start kicking in from this July. Since then, national experts from the EU-25 have been ironing out the technical details from that political agreement and finalizing three legal texts that now return to the ministers at a meeting on Monday for final approval. Under EU law, the European Parliament must also give its opinion on the reform. That was delivered in January. Poland, Greece, Lithuania and Latvia are due to vote against the November agreement, saying their national sugar industries will suffer far too much as a result. Slovenia is expected to abstain and the rest of the EU-25 should all vote in favor. Under the EU’s complex weighted voting system, this small camp of countries opposed to the deal does not have enough power to stop the finalized texts on sugar reform from passing into law. «There will be a qualified majority,» said a diplomat representing Austria’s EU presidency. «In November, there were member states that weren’t terribly keen on this (reform deal) and if they are going to say anything, it would be now.» «They (the four countries) will probably intervene (orally) to say why they are voting against and then the texts will be adopted,» another diplomat told reporters.

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