European Union negotiators said they agreed on sweeping changes to the bloc's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) this week, fixing the rules governing 50 billion euros ($65 billion) in annual farm subsidies for 2014-2020.
Under the reform, many of Europe's largest farms, notably in France, Spain and Italy, will lose up to 30 percent of their current subsidies to allow payments to be shared out more equally across the bloc.
In addition, EU sugar production quotas will end in October 2017, an EU official involved in the talks said. The 45-year-old system of national production quotas and minimum sugar beet prices has been blamed for creating artificial shortages of the sweetener in Europe, and limiting EU exports because of world trade rules on unfair subsidies.
"We have a deal in principle on CAP reforms between the negotiators, which must now be confirmed by the European Parliament and EU governments," EU farm commissioner Dacian Ciolos said after the deal was struck.
Ciolos said he did not foresee any problems with approval by governments and the parliament, which is necessary before the deal takes effect, as it was within the limits of the mandate agreed by EU farm ministers in Luxembourg, also this week.
"This is a very good outcome. We have got an overall package that is likely to be supported by the European Parliament," Irish farm minister Simon Coveney told Reuters.
Full details of the reform package should be spelled out after a vote in the Parliament's agriculture committee that was scheduled for this week.