The Portuguese government has been granted exceptional national aid by the EU for the distillation of 450,000 hectolitres of surplus wine.

Under the terms set by the Council of Agriculture Ministers the aid will be to a maximum value of 0.574 euros per hectolitre, this being the level "strictly necessary to remedy the imbalance which has arisen on Portuguese territory."

Although the situation has since improved the EU has previously had difficulty meeting claims for crisis distillation from Spain and Portugal because of a drying up of funds from the budget. And an earlier request for aid in respect of 450,000 hectolitres from Portugal could only be met after Germany agreed to give up half of its own claim which involved one million hectolitres.

The Commission also expressed its concern last month that some countries had begun proposing national aids to bring crisis payments up to the levels for voluntary distillation.