Reforms to the European Union (EU)'s cotton subsidy system, decoupling aid from actual production, should be reviewed, a European Court of Justice (ECJ) advocate general has recommended.

Eleanor Sharpston found fault with both the EU Council of Ministers and the European Commission for not sufficiently assessing the reforms' impact on cotton producers.

Notably, "without justifying the chosen 65%:35% split between decoupled and coupled aid, the Council has made choices whose arbitrariness violates the principle of proportionality", said the advocate general, whose advice is expected to be adopted by the full court.

The case was brought by Spain, which claimed the reforms breached commitments made on its 1986 EU accession that Brussels would support its cotton industry, preventing it being "driven out by other crops" in cotton-dependent regions. Sharpston, however ,called for existing reforms to stay until the review had been staged, that took account of the resulting potential economic damage.