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EU wine reform draws anger over grubbing up.

EUROPEAN Union (EU) wine makers have attacked European Commission proposals to reform the EU wine common market regime--targeting with hostility plans to increase grubbing up. All participants at a European Parliament hearing agreed the EU wine system needs change, given current over-production and poor sales. But industry participants claimed that the EU should act to increase demand, not slash production; the Commission wants to grub up 400,000 hectares of the present 3.4 million hectares of EU vineyards. Patrick Agrain, representing France industry group for wine, vegetables, fruits and horticulture VINIFLHOR, said: "Such a de-capitalisation, without increasing competitivity, would simply result in ceding our place in the market to our competitors." He continued: "Our problem is not that we are producing too much, but that we are selling too little. The main factor of our difficulties is the import/export balance." Mr Agrain called for help on finding new markets and expanding existing ones.

Portugal's Joao Vieira, from his country's Confederagao Nacional da Agricultura, went further, calling the Commission proposal "a threat to the European wine industry." However, the European Commission's agriculture deputy director general Lars Hoelgaard argued that the Commission's offer of subsidised grubbing up offered vintners the chance to leave the wine market before major liberalisation. In a debate on the Commission's proposal to allow wine-making practices such as adding wood-chips to EU-made wines, Jose Ramon Fernandez Barrero, Secretary General of CEEV (Comite europeen des Entreprises Vin) called for wine labels to "explain the exact characteristics of the product," to highlight wines with additives.
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Author:Nuthall, Keith
Publication:International News
Date:Jul 1, 2006
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