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EU says five nations must pay €57 mln over sugar stocks

Five European Union nations were fined about €57 million ($73 million) for failing to scale back sugar stocks that exceed the bloc's quotas.

Estonia, Cyprus, Malta, Latvia and Slovakia were ordered to pay the charges over the next four years, the European Commission said in a statement today in Brussels. Surplus stocks of sugar were found in the five countries before they and five other mostly eastern European nations joined the EU in May 2004. The commission, the EU's regulatory arm, gave the countries time to eliminate the oversupply and imposed the fines when they failed to comply. The EU is reducing sugar exports after Brazil, the world's biggest exporter, won a World Trade Organization ruling preventing growers in Europe from exporting all their surplus production. European sugar output is likely to drop about 14% this year, the EU has said. (Bloomberg)