The attack by France and Germany on the European Commission's 'health check' reforms to phase out EU dairy quotas by 2015 is gathering support, with 16 member states backing increased subsidies.

Having failed to persuade the Commission to abandon quota liberalisation, a growing Franco-German-led alliance at the EU Council of Ministers is backing increased subsides while restrictive production quotas expand from 2010 and disappear in 2015.

In particular, Berlin and Paris want a raised intervention purchase price for market surpluses, and - more controversially - additional powers for national government to pay their own dairy subsidies.

The two EU giants were joined by Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia in the declaration, which favoured new dairy market rules.

Under the existing system, "the current instability of revenues for producers prevents the best allocation of future indispensible investments…"