Summary: The main European farming and agri-foods lobby groups - CELCAA, CIAA, COPA and COGECA* - joined forces to send out an appeal to European Commissioner for Agriculture, Franz Fischler, on December 7, warning him about the problems raised by the planned revision of the EU Regulation governing export refunds and the extra difficulties anticipated if the amendments that have been discussed in Management Committee are adopted without appropriate adjustments.

The lobby groups, which encourage any initiative aiming at strengthening the competitiveness of the farming and agri-food sectors on both Community and third-country markets, stress that the current review of Commission Regulation 3665/87/EEC, which fixes common enforcement rules for the export refund regime for agricultural products, should not result in legislation that would be incompatible with the international trade environment. The groups underline in their letter to the Commissioner that, although they entirely support the fight against fraud and the need to protect the Community's financial interests, exporters are angry about plans to make them solely and systematically responsible for fraudulent practices, a move largely provoked by the increase of tariff concessions under EU trade policy. They stress that the implementation of some tariff concessions is not being followed up by sufficient control, with considerable economic benefits being granted and no effective mechanism to check quantity or to implement sanctions for recorded misuse, for which the beneficiary states should be responsible. Furthermore, the four...

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