The six wine producing countries of the European Union's (EU) intake of new member states in May have received their first allocations of EU vineyard restructuring aid.

The European Commission has earmarked the largest sum to Hungary: €10m for 2004-5, followed by Slovenia at €2.9m, Slovakia €2.8m, Cyprus nearly €2.4m, the Czech Republic €1.7m and Malta €171,000.

The money should either improve the performance of vineyards or convert them to other crops. Despite the apparent largesse, these grants are dwarfed by subsidies lavished on the EU's big three producers, with Spain, France and Italy being allocated €145m, €107m and €103m respectively for 2004-5.

This is at least a reduction on 2003-4, when Brussels handed out €152m, €111m and €120m respectively, from a total pot of €443m, which increases to €450m this year.