The European Commission has said it has taken another step to modify the EU’s import regime for bananas.

As agreed by the Council of EU Ministers in 2001, the move to a tariff-only system is due to take place no later than 2006. To ensure this, the European Commission has this week proposed to the Council to open WTO negotiations.

Once the Council has agreed, the Commission will negotiate the import tariff for bananas with the relevant producer countries. It will seek to maintain the same level of protection and preferences for African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries as the existing regime provides while entirely respecting its obligations and commitments with regard to its other trading partners, EU producers and EU consumers.

“We are now moving to the final phase of our agreement and replacing the complex quota system by a simple tariff system. What will change is the import regime, not the level of protection. If our Member States agree, the Commission will negotiate an adequate tariff level. We will have to square the circle and safeguard the sometimes conflicting interests of our consumers, producers and trading partners,” said Franz Fischler, EU Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries.

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