Wine producers wary of vine reform plans
By Ed Bray | Monday 11 March 2013
EU wine producers have urged policy makers to reject attempts to liberalise vine planting rules ahead of key talks among national experts and a vote in the European Parliament on 13 March.
Vine planting rights were set to be phased out by 2018 at the latest under a 2008 agreement to allow the EU to tap into new markets in China and India. But a deal struck between wine representatives, national experts and the Commission at the high-level group last December said regulation was necessary after 2015 to safeguard the quality of European wine. But wine producers now fear that liberalisation still lurks around the corner. Deregulating the sector would encourage overproduction and lower prices, harming the EU’s reputation for quality, the European Federation of Origin Wines (EFOW) warns.
A draft compromise text tabled by the EU’s Irish Presidency suggests a new scheme running until 2021. “This is not satisfactory,” EFOW President Riccardo Ricci says. The federation’s warning has the backing of wine heavyweights – France, Spain, Italy, Germany and Portugal. At the most recent meeting of national experts (Standing Committee on Agriculture), the group issued a joint note saying the reformed system of vine plantation rules should begin in 2019 (three years later than planned) without a specific end date. The group demands a yearly ceiling of 0.5% for extra area for new vine authorisations (compared to the Irish Presidency’s 1% and the Commission’s 2%).
Meanwhile, the EFOW urges MEPs to stand by the previous commitments to maintain planting rights until 2030. “In 2008, the European Parliament was the only institution that opposed the proposed planting rights’ liberalisation. As a co-legislator, it has now the power to influence the ongoing discussions on the topic,” the EFOW says.