The European Commission has proposed a change in the organisation of the EU wine market aimed at encouraging young people into wine growing.

Brussels said that some Member States had been pursuing active policies of generational replacement and these had proved their worth, "particularly in the wine sector where there is a great need to attract younger growers."

The Commission is now planning to amend the 1999 regulation, which generally sets strict limits on new planting rights, but gives some preference to young growers.

It has decided that planting rights granted to the new generation of wine growers should be eligible, at least on a temporary basis, for restructuring aid from public coffers.

Officials in the Commission's agricultural department said that while EU wine production was now "more or less in balance" with consumption, there were still problems with older growers reluctant to switch from table to quality wines where market prospects were better.