The European Commission is to raise import volumes for bananas in view of the accession of ten new EU member states on 1 May 2004.

In order to ensure sufficient supply of bananas to consumers in the new member states, the current import volumes for bananas are to be increased based on historical imports to the new member states and subject to negotiations with the EU's WTO trading partners, the Commission said.

Before the beginning of May, the Commission said it will determine the additional quantities of bananas needed to ensure a sufficient supply to the market of the enlarged European Union, and will take the necessary measures which will enter into force as of 1 May 2004.

"The EU will fully respect its obligations and commitments. We will safeguard the interests of the EU producers. The preferential access for producers from African, Caribbean and Pacific countries will be maintained and our WTO commitments entirely honoured," said Franz Fischler, EU Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries.