EU reforms sharpen competitive edge

The body that represents wine businesses in the European Union has welcomed final approval of controversial reforms, which it claims will bring an end to the “prohibitionist” restrictions on vineyard planting.

vineyardThe Comité Européen des Entreprises Vins (CEEV) believes that a new Common Agricultural Policy system allowing countries to plant the equivalent of 1% of their total vineyard area each year from 2016 will help European producers to compete more effectively in the global market.

However, as reported by the drinks business, some countries had expressed concern that this measure will undermine efforts to tackle over-production and increase value sales.

Noting this opposition, CEEV president Jean-Marie Barillère, said: “We regret the lack of ambition for EU wines shown by some Member States during the debates, as the annual growth limitation topped at 1% at EU level will not be enough to compensate the ‘natural’ trend of vineyards reduction (without subsidised grubbing up), taking into account the structure and demographics of the wine sector that will accelerate this trend.

“The EU cannot just leave the markets to our competitors and limit itself to manage the decadence of the EU leadership in the global wine market.”

As if to mitigate the concerns of those countries who opposed the reforms, Barillère called on the European Commission and Member States to “ensure a flexible and market oriented implementation of these new rules, according to true objective economic criteria”.

The reforms, which were formally adopted by the Council of EU Agriculture Ministers earlier this week, having been approved by the European Partner in November, comprise four main elements: direct payments, market management mechanisms, rural development and horizontal regulation. Full details are available here.

Confirming that his organisation will “follow carefully” the definition of these new rules, José Ramón Fernandez, secretary general of CEEV said: “We hope that synergies with the reform of the horizontal promotion scheme will allow the EU to devote more efforts to efficient prevention of emerging market access barriers for the EU wine exports, and facilitate the sustainable opening of new markets worldwide for our EU wines”.

Established in 1960, the Brussels-based CEEV is made up 23 national associations and over 7,000 companies, which together account for more than 90% of EU wine exports to a value of €8 billion.

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