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Defra (finally) publishes draft legislation that will axe VI-1 forms

The UK government has published draft legislation to completely axe VI-1 forms not only for importing wine into the UK from the EU but also from outside the EU – six working days before Parliament goes on recess.

The draft legislation, which needs to be approved by a Lord scrutiny committe before coming into UK law, has axed the forms that were rolled over from EU law by Theresa May’s government.

Once the legislation has passed Parliamentory scrunity, it will no longer be necessary to present the VI-1 certificate or an analysis report drawn up in the wine’s country of origin.

Db understands that it is likely to go before Parliament next week.

The news was met with relief by the WSTA, who said it “did everything they had wanted it to” in terms of the VI-1 form and that it expected that draft would get the blessing of the scrutiny committee when it goes before them.

Speaking to the drinks business this morning, the WSTA’s director of policy Simon Stannard said it was particularly good that the requirement had been scrapped it for all countries importing wine into the UK, noting that there had been a provision in the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) that would have enabled the UK to have used a simplified wine import certificate from the EU but retain the status quo for third country producers

“They’ve gone further by scrapping it from all wine imports – which is what they committed to in their announcement back in July,” he noted.

“Probably the biggest effect will be felt by those countries that don’t have a simplified procedure. New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina will be the ones that see the full benefit as currently they have to underake the full lab analysis which can be very costly. Australia, Chile, and US have simplified procedures – so while it will be of benefit to them, it is the countries that will have full VI-1 that will feel the full benefit,” he said.

Amending the exisiting legislation will bring to an end nearly three years of uncertaintly for  the UK and EU wine industry, who have repeatedly argued against VI-1 forms, which would that would have had added needless complication and red tape as well as costing an additional £130 millions of expense.

Although this is welcome news, the fact remains that UK importers and EU businesses still face more hurdles than they did before the UK left the EU. And wines from third countries that come to the UK destined for the EU, will still need a VI-1 form – although a Defra spokesman told db that this would only affect a “small minority”.

The proposed legislation will also extend the transistion period for labelling laws that would have come into effect next September, until May 2023. This means that skus produced before the TCA agreement came into force can still come into the UK market without needing to be relabelled. This extension will give the government more time to finalise the rules on labelling after May 2023, thereby giving producers more time to adjust once the rules have been determined.

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