The UK's Wine & Spirit Association has warned the European wine industry that a comprehensive analysis of the European wine regime with the consumer as the main focus is essential, if the sector is not to lose further ground to the New World.

Speaking to a seminar, which included the Comité General de la Cooperation Agricole de L'Ue (COGECA), Comité Européen des Entreprises Vins (CEV) and the European Federation of Wine and Spirit Importers (EFWSID), Allan Cheesman of Sainsbury's spoke on behalf of the Wine and Spirit Association (WSA) and EFWSID. He argued that the consumer will end up deciding the future of European wine.

"The New World already has the advantage of not being tied to European wine policy and is able to innovate with grapes, styles and technology in a way that is impossible in the Old World. In turn this means it is far easier for New World countries to produce wine which fit specific consumer demands," says Cheesman. "We must take a step back and look at what the consumer really wants rather than what suits the producer. Marketing, branding and consumer friendly labelling all need to be brought up to date to meet market demand. Of course, there are wonderful wines coming out of Europe, but they are having to compete with the New World with the restrictive Common Wine Policy holding them back," he added.

Director of EFWSID and the WSA, Quentin Rappoport, said: "It was encouraging that other organisations representing European interests are all now in agreement that there are many challenges facing all aspects of the European trade, and that steps need to be taken to draw up a co-ordinated strategy for the European wine regime, taking the consumer into account."