Boel: European wine to win back market share

European wine will be in a more competitive position following EU reforms, according to Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel.

Speaking after European Union agriculture ministers agreed the terms of a wine reform programme, agriculture and rural development commissioner Boel 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 yesterday 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. Subsidies for crisis distillation will be phased out, and the money will instead be allocated in “national envelopes”, and can be used for promotion, innovation, restructuring and modernisation 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, which discouraged 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 going.”