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BRNO (Moravie - 27/07/2006)
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Resolution on the proposal for the reform of the Wine CMO drawn up by the Directorate for Agriculture and Rural Development

The AEWR is pleased to see that the draft reform of the European wine sector presented by the Commission clearly opts for a specific CMO.

It welcomes this recognition of the complexity of the European system in the sector which therefore requires greater subsidiarity in its management.

The AEWR is also pleased to see recognition, for the first time, of the beneficial effects on health of regular, moderate wine consumption.

While the remarks in the introduction to the draft reform do reflect the reality of the crisis the sector is going through in many regions of Europe, and while the declared objectives are also those we have been recommending untiringly for many years, which is to say

• enhancing the competitiveness of our wines against those from non-EU countries,

• simplifying the rules intended to balance the market,

• promoting the assets of European winegrowing,

• adopting a positive view of public health and consumer protection,

the AEWR does not agree with the quantitative and qualitative analysis of certain causes and, in particular, with some of the major proposals made by the Commission which go against the opinions of the majority of the experts, politicians and professionals as expressed at the orientation seminar organised by the Commission on 16 February 2006 in Brussels. As well as this, many of the proposals are too tentative or insufficiently detailed. In this respect, the AEWR would like to see the Commission’s avowed desire for dialogue with the organisations representing the sector expressed in its proposals. The AEWR points out that it was in this constructive spirit that it unanimously adopted a specific resolution on the reform of the Wine CMO at its Plenary Session in Merano in April 2006.

The European winemaking model the AEWR has always defended is part of a sustainable development policy based on the values of quality, authenticity and the cultural image of wine linked with its “terroir” – and is quite opposed to the uniform conception of a universal industrial beverage.

Faced with market globalisation, the AEWR is in favour of improving competitiveness on the basis of a fair set of rules, both within the EU and in the framework of the WTO. This means achieving harmonisation and consistency between all the Community policies that have an effect on the wine sector: agriculture, health, taxation, budget, trade and regional development.

At all events, the financial means devoted to agricultural policy, notably in terms of information and promotion, must match the declared objectives.


No matter how “deep” the reform goes, the AEWR wishes above all else to see a consistent reform without unbridled deregulation, and it wishes to take this opportunity to highlight a number of contradictions:

The AEWR notes that the Commission is returning to the Malthusian policy of the period 1976-1996 which was of great benefit to non-EU countries, without taking account of the principle of communicating vessels in a world market that is more open than ever before. In this respect, the Commission makes provision for a drastic reduction in production potential (400,000 ha), combined with the removal of all restrictions on planting rights in the short term and an authorisation to vinify must from non-EU countries and to mix their wines with wines from within the EU: this set of measures is quite obviously inconsistent, unless we suspect the Commission of taking an ultra-liberal view and seeking to relocate the vineyards outside the EU or exacerbate competition with non-EU countries.

Also, the Commission proposes purely and simply to do away with all market regulation measures, as if the fact this system has been misused brings into question the instrument itself in the management of exceptionally imbalanced market situations.

Faced with the recurrence of these imbalances, the AEWR again reiterates that it is vital to return to basics and to focus on the only instrument that has an effect both on quantity and quality, which is to say controlling yields in each Region.

Likewise, the proposal to liberalise winemaking practice while complying notably with the standards of the OIV is intrinsically contradictory. As well as this, the possibility of producing wines using more or less strict practices depending on the country they are destined for will result in confusion and uncontrollable cohabitation between different types of wines. As well as this, the ban on chaptalisation recommended by the Commission is not compatible with the removal of restrictions on winemaking practices, since the Commission recognises this practice in the bilateral agreements with certain non-EU countries.

Concerning the fundamental field of statistics and their analysis, grouping together all the items relating to the sector of wine and its derivatives, the AEWR regrets that the Commission makes no proposals, while obviously basing itself on unconsolidated data and estimates that lead to fragile conclusions. The AEWR points out that the wine sector generates the largest amount of excise, duties and taxes – including for non producing countries - and repeats its demand that an observatory of the European wine sector be set up, in the form of an inter-regional network, to establish reliable indicators so that the market can be managed as precisely as possible.

As an example, the calculation of the structural surplus alone merits in-depth analysis. Given that EU harvests can vary between 150m/hl and 190 m/hl, it would be preferable to situate these variations

• between table wine and quality wines produced in a specific region (quality wines-PSR)

• between the Member States

• between the Regions of the EU

• Illegal and unauthorised planting,

• between the uses of harvests:

1. Table wine / quality wine PSR for drinking

2. Distillation of potable spirit – industrial spirit

3. Destruction distillation

4. Production of CM / RCM / grape juice / grapes

before considering any destruction of winemaking potential.

In detail, the standpoint of the AEWR is as follows:

6.1 The AEWR firmly rejects any liberalisation of planting/replanting and reaffirms its attachment to the principle of controlling planting rights. It demands that a vine registry be set up in all the Member States.

Abolishing planting rights would lead to severe distortion of the market in wine-producing countries resulting in the disorganisation or even the ruin of whole wine-growing Regions with all the socio-economic consequences that would entail.

6.2 The AEWR does not dispute the need for a moderate uprooting programme, but categorically rejects the figure of 400,000 hectares (not counting illegal and unauthorised planting), especially as this programme would use up the greater part of the available budget for five years, at the expense of the improvements in competitiveness we would like see made. It demands that whenever uprooting measures are applied, it must be the region in question that establishes the framework and the terms.

6.3.1. Abolition of market management measures

The AEWR is in favour of maintaining the financing of distillation of by-products. In parallel, alternative solutions to remove the by-products of vinification, such as composting marc, for example, must be studied. Funding of the distillation of by-products for use in bio-fuels, which represents a positive measure for the environment, could also be maintained until the market takes over from it.

Financing of the production of any potable spirit that is not intended for use in the traditional fortification of wines (Port, Madeira, Sherry, Marsala, Natural sweet wines, Liqueur wines etc) could be left to the market.

Aid for private storage could be transferred to the national budget while remaining subject to authorisation by the Commission.

Aid for the use of CM/RCM must be maintained in compliance with the compromise on enrichment methods.

Emergency distillation, as a tool for managing exceptional imbalances, must be retained, but must be managed by each Region and Member State. If the need should arise, it must be made compulsory.

6.3.2. National budget

The AEWR has always strongly defended the principle of subsidiarity – down to the regional level – and is in favour of national budgets for market measures and direct aid (Pillar 1), but it must be subject to an upper limit for uprooting operations.

However, this budget allocated by the EU to the Member State must be attributed to the winegrowing regions on terms yet to be defined.

This allocation must not put an end to global management of the sector by the EU.

6.3.3. Rural development

The AEWR is in favour of the principle of genuine rural development plans (other than social plans) of the agri-environmental type reserved for wine growing, as long as their co-financing is guaranteed by the Member States or Regions on top of the current budget.

The AEWR rejects the financing of conversion and restructuring measures being included in the horizontal measures of the second pillar by transferring budget items.

The AEWR demands that special European programmes be implemented in favour of vineyards on steep terrain.

6.3.4. Quality policy / geographical indications

The AEWR has always supported the efforts of producers in favour of the quality of table wines and of wines of designated origin, and has always defended the idea of authenticity linked with the origins of the wine against all forms of misuse and counterfeit.

As the international protection of European indications of origin is being blocked by the New World countries, the TRIPS agreement cannot be used as a reference at present. As a matter of principle, the EU must maintain and promote the identification and protection of geographical indications on wines, which are essential elements in the structuring of European wine regions. In particular, it is necessary to ensure the protection of GIs against attempts to use their reputation in favour of other products, either comparable or not, by bringing the protection of Quality Wines PSR into line with the protection of other foodstuffs (PDO) within the framework of regulation 2081/92.

Any procedure for the registration or protection of European geographical indications must be a matter for the Council and not for the Commission.

The AEWR cannot accept a wide-scale change in product presentation practices that are the result of our history and the recognition of practices. While simplification is desirable, it must not denature or cause confusion in the presentation of the wines from the different regions of the EU.

The AEWR notes with satisfaction the determination of the Union to promote the European concept of Quality Wines PSR all over the world. This must be put into practice in all bilateral or multilateral trade negotiations conducted by the EU, particularly in those relating to TRIPS.

The AEWR supports the reinforcement of the role of the professional, inter-professional or similar organisations in their action in favour of quality and the management of geographical indications.

6.3.5. Winemaking practice

The AEWR refuses to transfer the approval of new winemaking practices or the modification of existing practices from the Council to the Commission.

The AEWR is in favour of the recognition of the winemaking practices of the OIV (by the Council and not by the Commission), as long as they do not call into question the traditional usages and rules in our Regions.

The AEWR categorically refuses to authorise the use inside the EU of winemaking practices that are not approved by the OIV (no two-speed winemaking), and also rejects the vinification of imported must and the mixing of EU wines with imported wines.

The AEWR cannot accept the abolition of the minimum natural alcohol content of wines, which would be a source of abuse, and demands that the case of years in which climate conditions have been exceptionally unfavourable should be maintained as it stands in the EU regulations.

6.3.6. Enrichment

The AEWR categorically rejects any attempt that was not previously accepted by concerned countries, to call into question the current situation regarding enrichment methods. It points out that a consensus was found on this subject with some difficulty.

The use of sucrose, which is authorised by the OIV and in several bilateral agreements of the EU, cannot be forbidden for European winegrowers.

6.3.7. Labelling

The AEWR rejects the transfer of the simplification of labelling rules from the Council to the Commission.

The AEWR is not against the simplification of the presentation of wines as long as it is the result of a consensus between the stakeholders,

The AEWR rejects the possibility of confusion between table wines and Quality Wines PSR (reference to grape variety and vintage).

The AEWR is in favour of a certain amount of flexibility in linguistic rules, but it refuses to see labels become a catalogue of official warnings.

6.3.8. Promotion / Information

The AEWR considers that it is a priority to have a substantial, differentiated and targeted EU wine promotion policy, both on European territory and around the world, notably on high-potential and emerging markets. This promotion policy must highlight not only the health benefits of regular, moderate consumption, but also the quality of European wines, their traditional and cultural assets and their rich diversity. It points out that the European Parliament recommended a large-scale promotion policy back in 1999.

6.3.9. Environment

The AEWR is in no way against the idea of environmental policy, but points out that this requires not only means but also

• clear decisions regarding the approval of the molecules that can be used in agriculture,

• avoiding the de-structuring of winegrowing zones in the case of uprooting of vines,

• promoting organic winegrowing according to market’s demands

• promoting, in vineyards as well as in cellars, the knowledge and the use of techniques respectful of environment

• promoting composting of marc and studying other uses of by-products (fuels, methane).

The AEWR would like to see a review of the situation on this subject in all the Member States to avoid regulations piling up on top of each other.

6.3.10. WTO

The AEWR considers that wine – like must - is not of a nature to become a globalised raw material.

The AEWR stresses the export activities of the European winegrowing regions. In this respect, multilateral trade negotiations are major issues for European winegrowing.

The AEWR considers that the reform of the CMO, focused on competitiveness, must be the opportunity to place this issue at the heart of the priorities in all EU negotiations. Currently, due to the international undertakings given both multilaterally and bilaterally, European tariff protection is minimal. This being the case, it is more indispensable than ever before

• to seek a reduction in Customs tariffs on wines, particularly in countries that represent emerging or potential markets for European wines,

• to finalise the implementation of the multilateral register of wine geographical indications provided for in Article 23 of the TRIPS Agreement, an indispensable instrument to protect the GIs of European wines.

It is only on this condition that Europe will be able to maintain the identity and authenticity of its wines and avoid them becoming a globalised raw material.

7. Irregular and unauthorised planting

The AEWR has always demanded that illegal and unauthorised vineyards should not be regularised.

It demands that the costs of destruction of the surpluses arising from such vineyards should be borne by the Member State in question and that no aid should be paid to that State as long as these vines continue to exist.

The AEWR hopes to see a reform emerge from these debates enabling the survival of traditional European vineyards through management organised around the principle of subsidiarity and in close liaison with the professional organisations that have shown their worth and whose intervention capacities should be reinforced or even extended.