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Last Updated: Monday, 27 March 2006, 11:09 GMT 12:09 UK
Sugar row puts Estonia in EU jam
By Laura Sheeter
BBC Baltic correspondent

Jam jars
Estonians say the sugar is in people's kitchen cupboards
Campaigners from Estonia are hoping to win the support of European politicians by offering them a sweetener with a difference.

The group took 1,000 jars of home-made jam to the European Parliament in Brussels as part of a campaign to get the European Commission to reduce a fine imposed on Estonia for stockpiling sugar before it joined the bloc.

According to the Estonian Research Institute more than 80% of Estonians made jam last year, using about 20kg (44lb) of sugar per person in the process - so sending 1,000 jars of jam to Brussels will not make much of a dent in the nation's larders.

But Estonians hope it will make a big political difference. The country is being fined for stockpiles from before it joined the EU in 2004.

Estonia had more than 90,000 tonnes more than it was allowed under rules meant to stop speculators taking advantage of the EU's relatively high sugar prices.

Home economics

But Estonia says nearly half of the surplus should not be counted as it was not being hoarded by profiteers - but was sitting in the nation's kitchen cupboards waiting to be turned into jam.

Last week campaigners lobbied the European Parliament, hoping that having tasted Estonian jam, MEPs would realise how important a tradition jam-making was and support their cause.

But with the fine currently at 46m euros (31m) - that is about 35 euros per Estonian - the country is not relying solely on the support of sweet-toothed MEPs.

The Estonian government is also taking the case to the European Court of Justice.


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