A simplification of the EU's banana import quota system has received qualified support from the EU's foreign ministers. The Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels this week has indicated it would support Commission plans to eliminate the current complex quota allocation system and replace it with a "first come first served" basis. EU trade commissioner Pascal Lamy said the ministers supported his proposed transitional tariff quota system with import licences allotted to suppliers without prior allocation. The Commission intends this should form the basis for eventual elimination of quotas and their replacement with a tariff only regime. Ministers were reluctant to support the tariff only regime which the Commission wants to introduce in 2006. But divisions remain between EU member states on the issue. Council sources say Spain, France, Portugal, Greece and Ireland indicated that they are likely to oppose the move to a tariff only system. The proposals for quota system modification are likely to be opposed by US and the Latin American exporters. The US insists import licences should be based on shipment levels before the EU's creation of a single banana market in 1993. It is unlikely that the Commission's proposals will encourage the US to lift its $191 million in sanctions on EU goods imposed in retaliation for the claimed damage caused by the EU banana regime. {{FRESH PRODUCE }}