The reform is designed to bring the system into line with reforms in the other agricultural sectors, while "ensuring a fair standard of living for EU banana producers and taking account of the particularities of the regions where bananas are grown".
The reforms, based on a proposal from the Commission, abolish the old compensatory aid scheme for banana growers. Instead, money used to support banana producers will be added to the so-called POSEI programme, which supports agricultural production in the outermost regions of the EU.
For bananas produced in regions other than the outermost regions, the money will be transferred to the Single Payment Scheme, which applies to agricultural products covered by previous reforms.
The new rules came into force this month.
"I am delighted that ministers have supported our proposal," said Mariann Fischer Boel, commissioner for agriculture and rural development.
The old system had no place in the modern CAP, which encourages producers to follow market signals. The new system will allow the producer countries to identify the most suitable way of helping their banana producers."
Bananas grown within the EU account for 16 per cent of total EU supply. They are produced in a number of 'outermost regions' (the Canary Islands, the French overseas departments of Guadeloupe and Martinique, the Azores and Madeira) situated in tropical or sub-tropical areas, as well as certain quantities (less than 2 per cent of the total) produced in Cyprus, Greece and continental Portugal.
This reform comes against the background of the new EU import arrangements for bananas, global trade negotiations, a new generation of partnership agreements with the ACP countries and the renewal of the EUs policy towards its outermost regions and the POSEI programmes specifically dedicated to supporting their agriculture.
The reform will therefore shift aid from production support to producer support, by abolishing the existing compensatory aid scheme for bananas and including it into the Single Payment Scheme. Member States will establish the reference amounts and eligible hectares under the Single Payment Scheme on the basis of a representative period appropriate to the banana market.
The national ceilings for Greece and Portugal will be increased by €1.1 million and €0.1 million respectively. An additional budget is also proposed for the implementation of the Single Payment Scheme in Cyprus, where about 10,000 tonnes of bananas are grown.
The additional amount would be phased in as of 2009 and would reach a full level of €3.4 million in 2013.