Conservative MEP Marina Yannakoudakis today met with officials from the European Commission to fight EU rules which are threatening jobs at Tate & Lyle Sugars Silvertown refinery in her London constituency.

Because of strict EU preferential access rules, Tate & Lyle Sugars is currently unable to source sugar cane in the quantities that it needs for its London refinery. The refinery is currently only running at 60% capacity and 30 jobs are threatened.

Marina was able to secure a meeting for Tate & Lyle with a senior agriculture official responsible for the EU sugar market. She accompanied representatives of Tate & Lyle Sugars to the meeting with the Director in charge of managing Europe’s Agricultural markets.

Marina called on the Commission to level the playing field between sugar beet and cane refiners and challenged the EU policy of charging taxes on extra cane imports. Marina called for all cane imports to be duty free or for the Commission to at least consider a fairer allocation of tariff-free imports.

Marina said: “There are currently 26 sugar cane refiners in the EU and some of the permitted import volumes are allocated as one-twenty-sixth of the amount of sugar cane which the EU will allow at a reduced or zero duty. This is irrespective of the size of the refinery. Tate & Lyle Sugars refinery capacity is over three times that of the next biggest refinery in Europe.

“Who dreamt up this crazy system? Already sugar cane refiners are suffering from the EU’s decision to increase quotas for EU-grown sugar beet. Now the EU is distorting the market by not giving refiners fair access to their raw material.

“This is distorting unreasonably penalising sugar cane refiners such as Tate & Lyle. Tate & Lyle Sugars deserves a fair chance to compete, my constituency deserves high quality manufacturing jobs and the European Union deserves food security and consumer choice.”

Following the meeting, Gerald Mason, vice-president strategy and regulatory affairs at the refinery said, ”Marina’s support is much appreciated and has really helped us today in our discussions with the Commission. We hope that her support will help the regulator see the logic of our arguments.”