The European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development has warned the region's vodka producers that there will be "no nit-picking" over pending definition laws.

Speaking at a conference organised by the European Spirits Organisation, CEPS, in Brussels yesterday (28 November), Mariann Fischer Boel compared the struggle to find a compromise in the vodka definition row as having been "like trying to hold on to two horses, running in opposite directions".

Earlier this year, the European Commission agreed that vodka made from cereals and potatoes will be labelled 'vodka', while vodka made from other materials will carry the indication 'produced from'.

"The row about the definition of vodka had been going on for years, and the stakes were very high, given the strength of the vodka market around the world," said Fischer Boel. "We always had to ensure that the definition of vodka would not run into trouble at a later stage, either within our own European law or within WTO discussions. Therefore, we restricted the existing definition.

"At the end, I think we got a good result," she added. "But I will say that discussion about the content of the spirit drink regulation is now over - the regulation has been essentially agreed and will soon be passed into law, and there's no mandate to change it again in the foreseeable future. There must be no nit-picking. The rules must be respected by everyone.

"The Commission will make sure this happens," Fischer Boel warned. "I give you my word on this."

The European Council is expected to finalise the law next month.