The European Commission has described as "very worrying" the continuing trend of member countries proposing national aid to boost crisis payments for the voluntary distillation of oversupply wine.

Italy has announced that it is to join a growing band of European Union countries that want to grant special national aid for the distillation of excess wine stocks, in the teeth of opposition from the EC.

The EC wants Member States to abide by the new common market organisation, which was designed to limit such production subsidies.

But the Italian delegation has informed the EU Council of Ministers that Rome intends to make distillation payments, if the pending opinion of the EU Wine Management Committee on such aid did "not address the current market difficulties for certain wine products."

Ministers have also instructed the Special Committee on Agriculture to examine the series of requests for authorisation to make aid payments, which have also been made by Portugal, France and Spain.