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Rear Guard Action on Wine Changes

  • February 23rd, 2007
  • Posted by 7thmin

wine-off-site.jpgSeveral Members of the European Parliament from wine-growing countries have put up counter-proposals to hold up or deflect changes in the wine industry being put forward by the European Commission.

The Commission wants widespread grubbing-out of surplus vineyards and a reduction n of spending on acquisition of surplus stocks of wine, much of it for use as vinegar or ethanol.

It has countenanced a relaxation of controls on wine-making practices and labeling, which would help EU producers match “New World” importers like Australia, California or Chile, in catering to expanding markets.

However strong industry and national lobbies have been working on politicians and officials to block the changes, reflected in some of the exchanges in the Parliament.

A report presented to MEPs reinforced arguments that cultural and heritage issues were at stake in protecting wine- making traditions, region ns and labels.

It wanted more voluntary constraints o n production built into any new European law, as opposed to compulsory action; and attacked the grubbing-out proposals, demanding protection for special areas, e.g. mountain areas or places of special cultural value.

The specialist weekly, New Europe (18-24.2.07) remarked: “Given the scope, it is unlikely that many vineyards would fall outside these categories, some said”.

It identified some of the leading MEPs from a wide range of party groupings, in the group which lined up to try to warn off too much action by the EC:

Katerina Batzeli, Greece, Socialist; Christine de Veyrac, France, EPP group (conservative affiliations); Sergio Berlato, Italy, Union for Europe of Nations group (affiliated to social conservative national parties); Marie-Helene Aubert, France, Greens.

They received good support for “cautious, carefully managed reform”, the report being adopted 484 to 129; the European Commission agreeing to study the arguments.

Reference:

“Reform of wine industry to protect vineyards”, New Europe, Brussels, 18-24.2.07, p 6

Wine: Vignobles de France Malgre the Ifs-and-Buts, EUAustralia, 11.2.07

Backgrounder: Upgrade on the CAP, EUAustralia, 29.10.07

Agriculture: New Subsidies Round for Vineyards to Meet “New World” Challenge, EUAustralia, 21.10.07

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