A shortage of sugar cane imports into the EU is driving up the cost of sugar and threatening jobs in the manufacturing sector. The EU rules which have affected the trade of sugar cane were the subject of discussion in the European Parliament today.

In the debate, London Conservative MEP Marina Yannakoudakis accused the European Commission of refusing to recognise the problem of reduced supply which has put thousands of highly skilled jobs at risk across the European Union.

One of the sugar cane refineries where jobs are in jeopardy is Tate and Lyle Sugars’ Silvertown factory in Marina’s London constituency. The plant has been running at 60% capacity since 2009 as a result of the European Commission’s competition-distorting rules.

Marina addressed European Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding in the debate in Strasbourg, saying: “Commissioner, We are told that there is no problem, yet cane refiners throughout the EU are running below capacity. Factories are closing their doors for several days a week and of course this means that jobs are lost.

“Jobs are at risk not only in the UK but across Europe, especially in Portugal, Bulgaria and Romania. You know there’s a problem. We know there’s a problem. We must act now to create a level playing field in this industry.

 “Commissioner, you are not responsible for agriculture but for citizenship. It is our job to protect our citizens: those whose jobs are under threat and those who are paying more at the supermarket each week. The price of sugar in the EU is 46 per cent more than the rest of the world.

“All the Commission needs to do is look at the source of the sugar supply shortage, and fix it. If the Commission refuses to act now, it will have let down the very people it is here to serve. And Europe will lose a key manufacturing sector.”

Video of Marina’s speech: http://youtu.be/gyWmeThIkcY