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European Commission - Press release

European Commission refers Italy to the Court of Justice for failure to recover milk levies due from Italian producers

Brussels, 26 February 2015

The Commission decided today to refer Italy to the Court of Justice of the European Union for failing to meet its responsibilities adequately with regard to managing the recovery of the levy for overproduction of milk. This levy should be paid by individual producers having exceeded their individual dairy quotas.

Italy exceeded its national quota every year from 1995 to 2009, and the Italian state paid the Commission the due superlevy amounts over the said period (2.305 billion EUR). However, despite repeated requests by the Commission, the Italian authorities have clearly not taken appropriate measures to effectively recover the levy payable from the individual producers/dairies. This undermines the quota regime and distorts competition with those producers who respected their quotas and those who have taken steps to pay their individual superlevy bills. As underlined by the Italian Court of Auditors, this is also unfair on Italian taxpayers.

The Commission estimates that, of the total amount of 2.305 billion EUR, some 1.752 billion EUR has still not been recovered. Part of this has been defined as lost or is covered by a 14-year staging plan, but the Commission estimates that penalties worth 1.343 billion EUR remain outstanding.

Under EU infringement procedures, the referral to the Court of Justice is the third and final step of the procedures. The Commission sent Italy a formal notice on this case in June 2013 and a reasoned opinion in July 2014. As Italy has shown no significant progress in the recovery, the case is now referred to the Court of Justice.

 

Background

Following overproduction problems in the EU dairy market in the 1970s and early 1980s and the associated increase in costs of public intervention, the EU introduced a dairy quota regime in 1984 aimed at limiting production and passing responsibility for overproduction to individual producers and/or domestic dairies. Under the dairy quota rules, if a country exceeds its annual quota, then a surplus levy ["superlevy"] must be paid by all individual producers that exceed their individual quota linked to their volume of overproduction.
 

For more information

On the February infringement package decisions, see MEMO/15/4489

On the general infringement procedure, see MEMO/12/12

For more information on infringement procedures:        

http://ec.europa.eu/eu_law/infringements/infringements_en.htm

IP/15/4490

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