The European Commission is to immediately start implementing the European Union's (EU) wine reform package after final formal approval was secured today (29 April) at the EU Council of Ministers.

Approving a political deal struck in December, the new system now enters into force in August. It includes a voluntary three-year grubbing-up scheme; phasing out of crisis distillation; and creating national winery modernisation grant budgets.

EU agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel said: "Instead of wasting money getting rid of unwanted surpluses, the reform will allow us to concentrate on taking on our competitors and winning back market share."

Freed up resources would "be used for wine promotion on third country markets, innovation, restructuring and modernisation of vineyards and cellars," said a Commission memorandum.