Brussels, 12 December 2007
The European Commission today proposed a 2 percent increase in milk quotas beginning on 1 April 2008 to meet growing demand both within the European Union and on global markets. The increase, a total of 2.84 million tonnes, would apply on an equal basis to the 27 Member States. It does not prejudge the ongoing review of the dairy market in the Health Check of the Common Agricultural Policy, where the Commission has suggested a gradual increase in quotas before they expire on 31 March 2015. Today's proposal is accompanied by a report on the outlook for the EU dairy sector, requested by the Council at the time of the 2003 CAP reform agreement. This shows that demand for milk has grown between 2003 and 2007 and is expected to continue growing between 2007 and 2014. The outlook for both demand and prices on the world market is equally positive. The report shows a 2 percent increase to be fully justified. The Commission hopes that the Council and Parliament will be able to reach a rapid decision to allow the increase to take effect by 1 April.
"CAP reform freed farmers to produce for the market and restrictive milk quotas are inconsistent with that aim," said Mariann Fischer Boel, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development. "We have seen a sharp rise in milk prices over the past year and a growing call for higher quotas. In the coming years, demand for high value-added dairy products – particularly cheese – will continue to rise both within Europe and around the world. We need to equip our farmers to meet that increased demand."
As part of the 2003 CAP reform, the Commission originally proposed an additional 2 percent quota increase on top of the 1.5% already agreed for 11 Member States in Agenda 2000. The Council decided against the additional increase but called on the Commission to report on the market situation, once the reform was fully implemented, before a final decision was taken.
The 2003 reform also made a number of other changes to the dairy market regime to make it more responsive to market signals, including a reduction in the intervention prices for butter and skimmed milk powder. It also agreed that quotas would end in April 2015. Positive market developments combined with the reform have contributed to a situation in 2007 where all export refunds are at zero for the first time since the system was set up in 1968 and intervention stores are empty. Internal disposal aids are zero as well, as was foreseen to be the case after the reform.
The market outlook report concludes that between 2003 and 2007, expanding
cheese and fresh milk production absorbed an additional 5.5 million tonnes of
milk, while overall milk production remained stable. According to the
Commission's analysis, between 2007 and 2014, an additional supply of about 8.0
million tonnes would be needed to meet growing internal demand, particularly for
cheese. Meanwhile, the outlook for the world market is positive, with growing
demand for EU foods in particular in emerging markets. Leaving quotas unchanged
would prevent the EU from exploiting rising demand and healthy price levels.