The European Commission has outlined plans to simplify regulations covering spirits production in the EU.

The Commission said the proposals, which are based on existing EU legislation on spirit drinks, would "enhance the applicability, readability and clarity" of the regulations.

The proposals would see EU regulations be adapted to WTO requirements and international laws governing intellectual property rights. The plans would also define the criteria for setting new geographical indications on spirit drinks, while a "well-defined policy" would be introduced based on three product categories - spirits, specific spirit drinks and other spirit drinks, the Commission added.

Mariann Fischer Boel, European Commissioner for agriculture and rural development, said: "The rules are designed to protect and inform consumers and prevent deceptive practices, while enhancing market transparency and fair competition."

The Commission said the proposals aimed to protect "the reputation which EU spirit drinks have achieved in the EU and on the world market" by taking into account traditional practices used in the production of spirit drinks. Technological innovations would be taken into account where they improve quality, the Commission added.

The UK's Scotch Whisky Association said it was "delighted" that the Commission had published the proposals.

"We are fully supportive of the proposals on whisky. They will strengthen the category and protect Scotch from unfair competition from around the world," an SWA spokesman told just-drinks today (22 December).

The EU's 25 member states and the European Parliament will consider the Commission's proposals.