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The future of sugar

Options for a sugar policy which is sustainable from the point of view of developmental policy and ecology

Documentation of the kick-off event of the project "Sweet explosive for the debate on development policy" in Düsseldorf, Germany, 21 September 2005


On September 21st the dialogue project titled "Sweet explosive for the debate on development policy" began. For the first time, representatives who are affected by the EU sugar market reform came together in Düsseldorf.  More than fifty people, such as the EU politicians, representatives of the German sugar industry and representatives of developing countries, gathered.

The reason behind this dialogue project is the fact that the EU sugar market order has to be reformed.  This is needed due to a number of factors: the phase-out in 2006, the defeat before the WTO Dispute Settlement Body, and the consessions the EU made towards the developing countries. Up to now, EU farmers, ACP and several LDC countries have profited from the sugar market order because of high prices - a market price set twice as high as the world market price.  However, the planned sugar market reform of the EU Commission wants to cut the prices by 40 percent. While the European sugar beet producers get commission, the developing countries have to live with the full negative effects of the reform.

The goal of this dialogue, which will be continued until August 2006, is the phrasing of a developmental, environmental and agriculturally sustainable position to the reform of the sugar market order. This position will take place during the negotiations concerning the sugar market.

Main points that were examined at the conference were the overproduction of sugar in the EU, as well as the alternative use of sugar and different cultivation options for other products. Questions of justice and solidarity with the people in the affected developing countries were discussed as well.


The first lecture was held by Dr. Jens Schaps, Head of Agriculture, Fisheries, SPS measures and External Trade in the European Commission. He described the situation of the international sugar market,  and upon this the WTO negotiation position towards sugar. The situation of the least developed countries was also mentioned.

The Chairman of Germanwatch, Mr. Michael Windfuhr, was the next speaker. Windfuhr described the effects the EU sugar market reform has on developing countries. In conclusion, he stated the recommendations of Germanwatch with the regard to the reform of the sugar market order.

The third speaker, Mr. Graefe zu Baringdorf, Chairman of the "Arbeitsgemeinschaft bäuerlicher Landwirtschaft" (AbL), introduced the position of AbL on the EU sugar market reform.

Dr. Norbert Schmitz from meó Consulting elaborated the global and German development of bioethanol production as well the perspective for its production. He concluded that sugar beet is not the preferred crop for the production of bioethanol.

The minister for environment and protection in North-Rhine Westfalia, Eckhart Uhlenberg, agreed - except for two  points -  that the sugar market reform was a good solution for both the North and the South. High price cut as well as the SWAP possibilities had however been criticized.

From the point of the sugar market industry, Dr. Dieter Langendorf from Wirtschaftliche Vereinigung Zucker presented the planned EU sugar market reform. In conclusion, he stated that this reform would lead to a substantial decrease for the local sugar industry.

The statement from the Katholischen Landvolkbewegung (KLB) was presented by Ulrich Oskamp. The KLB advocates a sustainable development in agriculture as well as international solidarity and development aid.

The issue of how the bioethanol market could be further developed in the EU, Mercosur and other countries was discussed in a document brought forth by Johannes Lackmann.

Dr. Rudolf Bunzel from the Evangelischer Entwicklungsdienst lectured on the disadvantages on developing countries caused by the EU sugar market reform.

The next contribution was given by Hans Jürgen Holzmann from the Landwirtschaftskammer North Rhine-Westfalia who presented the development of the sugar beet production in the region Northrhine-Westfalia for the next few years.

Dr. Michael Brüntrup, an academic assistant at the German Institut for Development Politics, contributed an analysis and statement for this event. He listed the winners and losers of the planned reform.

The World Wide Fund for Nature Germany, represented by Tanja Draeger de Teran, commented on the strengthening of biomass production. The World Wide Fund for Nature fundamentally support the increase of bioenergy production.

>> Full documentation (in German)

last updated 12 Dec 2005