Europe is caught up in a row over planting rights

Europe is caught up in a row over planting rights

The EU agricultural commissioner has said “liberalisation is not an option” for Europe's vineyards as the row over planting rights continues.

European wines need an EU-wide “safety net”, Dacian Ciolos told a farmers conference in Budapest yesterday (2 October). He also said any regulatory framework should work to give growers more scope to develop the sector.

Ciolos was talking ahead of the final meeting of a high-level EC group next month to discuss the removal of EU restrictions on planting new vines. Opponents say liberalisation will allow cheap products to flood the market and put smaller, family-owned labels at risk. They also say it will increase the need for further “grubbing-up” programmes that have so far cost the EU about EUR1bn.

The European Federation of Origin Wines (EFOW) welcomed Ciolos' remarks, but warned the EU needed a European framework for plantations instead of a single region-wide safety net.

“The implementation of a safety net in case of excessive plantations would be ineffective since the intervention would come too late,” EFOW president Riccardo Ricci Curbastro said.

“We need an upstream management system given that vine is a perennial plant that produces wine for decades.”

Last week, French wine grape growers applauded an EC decision to postpone a ruling that will allow US wineries to use the label “château” or “clos”.