New EU reforms welcomed as 'good news' for the UK

11 January, 2007

European wine will be in a more competitive position following EU reforms, according to

commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel.

Speaking after E U

agriculture ministers agreed the terms of the reform programme, the agriculture and rural development commissioner

said that, rather than ploughing money into subsidies, "we can now concentrate on taking on our competitors and winning back market share".

Crisis distillation of wine is to be phased out within five years, ministers agreed

after three days of talks and months of negotiations.

Other changes to the way EU wine is made and subsidised will include a three-year voluntary vine grubbing-up scheme to remove surplus and uncompetitive wine from the market.

While subsidies for distillation will be phased out, the money will be allocated to each wine-producing country to be used for the promotion,

restructuring and innovation of vineyards and cellars.

DEFRA welcomed the rules as good news for UK consumers and producers, particularly as the UK is one of the countries with small production

which will be exempted from many aspects of the regime.

Minister Jonathan Shaw said: "This is an important reform. It will rid the wine regime of its worst features, whichádiscouraged innovation and encouraged surplus production that was disposed of at the European taxpayer's expense."

The WSTA's head of technical and international affairs, John Corbet-Milward, said: "Many of the proposed changes have been championed by the WSTA since February 2006, and we are very pleased with the direction the reform is

taking."




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Richard Hemming MW: beware inverse snobbery

Few things can bring communal pleasure so intimately as wine. Apart from a hot tub, perhaps. Sport can trigger mass jubilation, film gives us shared empathy, but wine has a nigh-unique ability to bestow conviviality among us through a shared bottle ľ which makes it especially galling that we spend so much time divided over it.

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