As the Deputy is aware, in recent years the European Union has accumulated large amounts of public intervention stocks of skimmed milk powder which are overhanging the dairy market and having negative effects on wider dairy markets and market sentiment. In the 2015-17 period a total of 405,478 tonnes of skimmed milk powder were bought into public intervention. The sale of intervention skimmed milk powder stocks is undertaken through public tenders managed by the European Commission and voted on by member states through the Common Market Organisation, CMO, management committee for animal products.
After the most recent tender on 20 November, there are approximately 165,000 tonnes remaining in public intervention stocks, representing a significant reduction of approximately one half of total public intervention stocks since the start of 2018. The increase in the price of accepted bids in recent tenders is a welcome development and bodes well for future upcoming tenders. This underlines the effectiveness of the approach taken thus far. In July the Commission proposed to extend the arrangement to reduce the threshold for the buying in of skimmed milk powder at a fixed price from 109,000 tonnes to zero for the 2019 period. This was accepted by the Council on 15 October. It should be emphasised that the revised purchase model applies in 2019 only. As I have noted, as the new regulation does not prohibit the buying in of intervention stocks, buying in can continu, but on the basis of a tendering route.