Estonia seeking refund on EU sugar fine ({{commentsTotal}})

The Estonian government has taken the European Union to the European Court of Justice over a 34.4 million euro fine it had to pay for overstocking sugar prior to EU accession in 2004.

Estonia already won the case against hoarding other agricultural products, winning back 6.5 million euros, and petitioned the European Commission to also return the much large fine for sugar stockpiling. Estonia had the request rejected by the Commission and has now turned to courts.

The Government decided to file an action to the European Court of Justice at Thursday’s cabinet meeting, in order to at least partially recover 34.3 million euros from the European Union that was paid for surplus sugar stocks. Prime minister Taavi Rõivas said Estonian state lawyers believe the case could be realistically winnable.

Estonia finds that the European Commission has violated a number of general principles of law derived from the Treaty, such as the principle of good governance and legality of the activities of the Union.

When Estonia joined the European Union, it had to pay a so-called fine for surplus stocks of various commodities. Since the General Court of the European Union annulled the decision of the European Commission on the determination of surplus stocks of agricultural products other than sugar, the Commission returned 6,584,000 euros at the end of 2012.

Referring to the same decision, Estonia also requested that 34.3 million euros that were paid for the sugar surplus stocks would be recovered, but the Commission announced in December 2014 that it does not fulfil this request and Estonia can appeal to the European Court of Justice.

Editor: J.M. Laats, S. Tambur