The food industry of Malta is well placed to exploit its accession to the European Union next May, EU agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler has said, being the only new entrant country to negotiate a tailor-made package for the sector.

Speaking on an official visit to the country, Fischler noted the entire Mediterranean archipelago had been accorded 'less favoured area' status, meaning its small band of food producers will receive €24m (US$28.2m) in EU rural development subsidies and €4m in agricultural market supports from 2004-6.

Notably, he said sunshine-rich Malta has been given leeway to expand its tomato sector, being given production quotas "that go far beyond its current production."