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Australia and European Union Agree On Wine !!

  • June 7th, 2007
  • Posted by 7thmin

grange.jpgThe new at-long-last Australia-EU wine agreement initialled yesterday (5.6.07) in Canberra has been welcomed by both sides for protecting their turf and permitting innovation.

A negotiation carried out over several years survived intense lobbying on several fronts by European industry interests — themselves facing extensive restructuring in a bid to recover market position from the “New World”.

The change must still be ratified by national ministers from the 27 EU states, meeting as the European Agriculture Council.

A spokesman for the European Commission said today (6.6.07) that Council meeting should occur in the second half of this year, though the timing could be affected by the change happening in parallel with the EU’s internal restructuring; (see EUAustralia 31.5.07, “New Warning on ‘New World’ Wine Invasion”).

Australian authorities will also have to approve it, and in the meantime the Australian Ambassador to the EU, Alan Thomas, told EUAustralia at Brussels (6.6.07) the agreement, while reserving certain geographical place names like “champagne” or “port” for European products, would do the same for renowned area names in Australia.

It was balanced and a positive compromise.

“We were happy to sign,” Dr Thomas said.

The bilateral agreement on wine replaces a 1994 document.

It settles labelling issues, including clearance for Australian producers to list certain vine varieties, competition medals or awards, and indications such as colour of wine.

It also sets oenological standards (science of grape production); and sets up procedures for any future objections and arbitration.

Australian wine makers will be able to use some “traditional” wine-making terms founded in the EU, and certification procedures for wine in Europe will be simplified.

Protection is extended to vine names linked with a geographical area in Europe, including “hermitage” and “lambrusco”, so that Australian producers will retreat from using them after a year.

The eminent Australian label “Grange Hermitage” — pictured — has already moved, to “Grange”, since 1989.

The European Agriculture Commissioner, Mariann Fischer Boel, said today the new accord would safeguard EU interests by establishing principles on the use of geographical names, the labelling regime and the “traditional” expressions.

“I am delighted that we have been able to finalise our negotiations with such an important trade partner and I commend this agreement to the Member States”, Mrs Fischer Boel said.

European wine merchants who’d been watching for the settlement welcomed the end of a long wait.

Charles Van Havre from Krelinger Wine Estates (Tasmania), at Antwerp, said the industry would be studying details on certification and labelling.

Companies had wanted a break from present practices requiring the listing of a number of companies on a label, so that just one supplier could be listed as liable for the product.

Figures from the EU show its wine exports to Australia were worth EU 62-million (A$99.41-million; dcerates.com, 6.6.07) last year, and its imports from Australia EU 868-million (A$1.391-billion).

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