EU: France voices concerns over EU wine proposals

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The French Agriculture Minister Michel Barnier has expressed reservations over the proposed EU wine reforms, unveiled by European Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel yesterday (4 July).


"Although France can share the main objectives of this reform, substantial differences have appeared concerning ways to implement it," Barnier said in a statement. "This reform will only be accepted by France if it takes into account the interests of the French and European wine sectors."


Fischer Boel's five-year plan offers cash incentives to winegrowers who grub up vines, aiming to remove the least competitive producers and help them move into other sectors. The plan aims to reduce Europe's total vineyard area by 200,000 hectares.


Barnier said that grubbing up should be limited and supervised and that "temporary extraction" should be envisaged.


Under the plan, new plantings are not allowed until mid-2010 except under particular conditions. Fischer Boel would like to see that ban extended until 2013 and then removed.


Meanwhile, the European Parliament gave a cautious welcome to the Fischer Boel plan but warned that it would spark considerable debate in the coming months.


According to a statement issued by the European Parliament Press Service, in ensuing discussions following Fischer Boel's statement, "most MEPs broadly favoured the thrust of the proposal, stressing the need for reform".


However, the statement continued, "their observations and questions to the Commissioner  nonetheless show that the end of distillation schemes, a ban on chaptalisation and on aid for grape must, the liberalisation of planting rights and the national allocation of the Community budgets will doubtless be the most hotly-debated issues in the coming months".

Sectors: Wine

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