I propose to take Questions Nos. 165 to 168, inclusive, together.
Indecon International Economic Consultants were appointed by the Government to provide me with independent expert advice on matters relating to the implementation of the restructuring aid. Last month my Department issued a public call for submissions from interested parties in relation to the implementation of the aid and these submissions will be subject to scrutiny by Indecon. The deadline for the receipt of submissions is 2 June 2006.
Following Greencore's decision to cease sugar production, it is anticipated that the company will submit an application for restructuring aid in the first year of the new sugar regime, which comes into effect on 1 July 2006. The relevant Council Regulation requires that such an application, including a detailed restructuring plan for the industry, must be submitted by 31 July 2006 following consultations with the beet growers. A decision on the granting of the aid must then be made by the Member State by 30 September 2006 at the latest.
The Council Regulation provides that at least 10% of the aid shall be reserved for sugar beet growers and machinery contractors who have worked under contract with their agricultural machinery for the growers. That percentage may be increased by the Member State after consultation of interested parties provided that an economically sound balance between the elements of the restructuring plan is ensured. A decision on the percentage, taking account of all relevant factors, will be made in due course after the consultation process has been completed, the submissions have been examined by Indecon and following the adoption in the near future of the Commission Regulation laying down the detailed implementation rules. That Regulation will also cover the diversification aid which is to be drawn down in the framework of a national restructuring programme to be prepared and submitted to the EU Commission in due course.