The end of milk quotas: unlocking the economic potential of the EU dairy sector

The EU milk quota regime will end on 31 March 2015. First introduced in 1984, at a time when EU production far outstripped demand, the quota regime was one of the tools introduced to overcome these structural surpluses. The final date to end quotas was first decided in 2003 and reconfirmed in 2008 with a range of measures aimed at achieving a “soft landing”. Ending milk quotas will provide EU producers with more flexibility to respond to growing demand, especially on the world market. Successive reforms of the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy have in parallel provided a range of other, more targeted instruments to help support producers. Speaking today at a press conference on the subject, Commissioner Hogan stated: “The end of the milk quota regime is both a challenge and an opportunity for the Union. It is a challenge because an entire generation of dairy farmers will have to live under completely new circumstances and volatility will surely accompany them along the road. But it certainly is an opportunity in terms of growth and jobs. Through increased focus on valued added products as well as on ingredients for “functional” food, the dairy sector has the potential of being an economic driver for the EU. More vulnerable areas where the end of the quota system may be regarded as a threat can benefit from the pallet of rural development measures following the subsidiarity principle.”