EU wine and spirit producers call for clarity over Brexit

The Brexit talks finally seem to be getting somewhere, but more needs to be done to ensure a good deal for wine and spirit producers

Leaders of the wine and spirit industries praised progress in the Brexit negotiations yesterday, but they stressed the need for an end to uncertainty going forwards.

EU wine and spirits producers welcomed the progress outlined in the Joint Report, i.e. the protection of UK citizens’ rights in the EU and EU rights in the UK, the agreement that a hard border in Northern Ireland should be avoided, and the financial settlement agreement for the UK’s debts to the E.U.

However, they said that UK negotiators need to do their part to end uncertainty and asked that the spirit of ‘optimism’ be carried into the next stage of the negotiations. Regardless of what Theresa May says, no deal is definitely a bad deal for the wine and spirits trade.

There are particular concerns regarding the Northern Ireland border. CEEV, the representative professional body of the EU industry and trade in Wines, called for specific arrangements to ensure a post Brexit deal does not result in obstacles for the trade of Irish whiskey as the whisky trade relies on the free flow of goods across the whole of Ireland.

William Lavelle, head of the Irish Spirits Association, said: “We will continue to press to ensure that the final agreement protects our integrated all-island spirits industry and our cross-border supply chains. We also want to ensure that our three spirit GIs (Irish whiskey, cream liqueur and Poitin) continue to be recognised and enforced equally by both Irish and UK authorities.”

Jean Marie Barillère, President of CEE, also called for an end to the uncertainty: “We need clarity on exactly how these political statements of intent will be translated into technical and operational realities. Looking ahead, an early agreement securing continuous full protection of the PDO/PGIs for wines and GIs for spirit drinks is central in our ability to prosper.”

The talks seem to be getting somewhere, but the nothing will be finalised until everything is agreed.  There is a lot at stake as the UK is the world’s second largest wine importer and the loss of tariff-free trade could have a huge impact on the wine market.

CEEV called on the EU and the UK to agree to a ‘gold standard agreement’ which would preserve tariff-free trade for wines and spirits to ensure fair competition and consumers’ confidence, but they say it is ‘unlikely’ to be secured by March 2019.

The spirits and wine sector is currently responsible for over 3 million jobs. EU27 exports of wine and spirits are worth £2.3 billion and £591 million respectively, whilst UK exports of wine and spirits to the U.K are worth £209 million and 2.1 billion respectively.

One Response to “EU wine and spirit producers call for clarity over Brexit”

  1. Charles Crawfurd says:

    I think everyone wants clarity on Brexit but on the basis the Cabinet has not even got a single position I am not very optimistic that we are going to see much progress soon and some of Mr Davis’s ideas are as likely to fly as a concrete brick!

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