The fight to save the EU sugar refining industry was intensified today when London Conservative MEP Marina Yannakoudakis met European Commission Vice-President in charge of Competition Joaquín Almunia.

Mrs. Yannakoudakis has been fighting to protect the thousands of highly-skilled jobs at risk across Europe, including those at Tate and Lyle’s London refinery.

Marina believes that the European Commission’s sugar regime is distorting competition by not allowing a level playing field for sugar cane refiners and beet processors.

The 2006 reform of the EU sugar market was meant to increase competitiveness, yet the current lack of competition in the market has led to a scarcity of supply and EU sugar prices that are 83% above world prices.

In the meeting with Mrs. Yannakoudakis and her MEP colleagues, Vice-President Almunia said: “I am interested in learning more and to find an explanation with regards to the imbalance in the market, the high prices in the internal market and the shortage of supply.”

Marina Yannakoudakis said: “I am pleased that Vice-President Almunia listened to our concerns. High prices are bad for consumers and we can ill afford to lose jobs in London and beyond at a time of austerity.

“Refineries across Europe have stopped running at full capacity and there have been lay-offs with more jobs threatened.

“If the European Commission were to allow more flexible imports of raw sugar, refineries would be able to expand in order to meet the increased demand. Cane refiners need to be given a fair chance to compete.”