BELGIUM: Wine grubbing up row hits European Commission
Could vine grubbing-up subsidies in the EU have been set too high?
A public row has broken out between the European Commission and the European Union’s financial watchdog over whether the European Community wasted money by simultaneously funding the grubbing up and improvement of vineyards in the region.
In a report released yesterday (12 June), the EU Court of Auditors criticised the “tension” between the two policies, where “increases in yields … from restructuring … partially off-set the effects of grubbing-up”. The court also said that it felt money was wasted: Between 2007 and 2009, EUR1.07bn (US$1.34bn) was spent on grubbing up, while improvements drew on a EUR4.2bn budget from 2001 to 2010.
Grubbing up “aid rates were set at too high levels,” said the court.
Responding, the Commission’s agriculture spokesman Roger Waite argued that the two policies were complimentary, in that one funded the removal of poor wine production while the other made way for high quality vines yielding export sales.
The aim of the reform was “to enhance … competitiveness,” said Waite, who added that Brussels would not finance more grubbing up.
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