Considerations on COM(2017)656 - Authorisation of the opening of negotiations to amend the International Sugar Agreement, 1992

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1. The Union is a Party to the International Sugar Agreement 19923 (hereafter 'ISA') and a member of the International Sugar Organisation (hereafter 'ISO').

1. The Union has since 1995 approved the extension of the ISA for two year periods. The Commision has proposed to the Council to authorise the Commission to take a position in favour of the extension of the ISA for a further period of up to two years, ending on 31 December 2019.

2. According to Article 8 of the ISA the International Sugar Council is the responsible body for the performance of all functions necessary to carry out the provisions of the ISA. Article 13 of the ISA stipulates that all decisions of the International Sugar Council shall be taken in principle by consensus unless stipulated otherwise in the ISA. And that in the absence of consensus, decisions shall be made by simple majority vote unless the ISA provides for a special vote.

3. According to Article 25 of the ISA Members to the ISO hold 2000 votes in total. Each Member to the ISO holds a specified number of votes which is annually adjusted following predefined criteria in the ISA.

4. It is in the Union's interest to participate in an international agreement on sugar, considering the importance of that sector for a number of Member States and for the economy of the European sugar sector.

5. However, the institutional framework of the ISA and especially the distribution of votes among Members that also determines the Members' financial contribution to the ISO, no longer reflect the realities of the global sugar market.

6. Under the ISA rules on financial contributions to the ISO, since 1992 the Union's share has remained the same although the world sugar market, and notably the Union's relative position in it, has substantially changed since then. As a result, the Union has been assuming a disproportionately large share of the budgetary costs and responsibility that goes along with the costs in the ISO in recent years.

7. The ISA rules on financial contribution can be amended in accordance with the procedure provided in Article 44 of the ISA. On the basis of that Article the International Sugar Council may, by special vote, recommend to ISO members an amendment to the ISA. The Union being a member of the International Sugar Council in accordance with Article 7 of the ISA, should be able to initiate and participate in negotiations with a view to amend the institutional framework of the ISA.

8. It is therefore appropriate that the Commission be authorised to start negotiations within the International Sugar Council for the amendment of the ISA, that negotiating guidelines be established and that a special committee be appointed that will be consulted by the Commission when conducting the negotiations.