European Commission officially adopts Common Market Organisation viticulture reforms

Last week, the European Commission officially adopted a series of reforms intended to make European wine more competitive on the international market. The new Common Market Organization (CMO) regulations, agreed upon in December 2007, will go into effect August 1, 2008.

Among other significant reforms, winemaking practices will now require approval by the European Commission in accordance with standards set by the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV). (Previously, EU member states were allowed to approve winemaking practices internally.) Member states will also be encouraged to reduce surface area under vine and to phase out distillation schemes.

    Main points of the revised wine CMO

    National financial envelopes: these will allow EU Member States to adapt measures to their particular situation. Possible measures include: promotion in third countries, vineyard restructuring/conversion, modernisation of the production chain, innovation, support for green harvest, and new crisis management measures.

    Rural Development measures: some money will be transferred into RD measures, ring-fenced for wine regions. Measures could include setting-up young farmers, improving marketing, vocational training, support for producers’ organisations, support to cover additional costs and income foregone in maintaining cultural landscapes, early retirement.

    Planting rights: these are to be phased out by 2015, with the possibility to continue them at a national level until 2018.

    Phasing-out of distillation schemes: crisis distillation will be limited to four years at Member States’ discretion until the end of 2012/13, with maximum expenditure limited to 20 per cent of the national financial envelope in year one, 15 per cent year two, 10 per cent in year three.

    Three and 5 per cent in year four. Potable alcohol distillation will be phased out over four years, with a coupled payment for the transitional period, being superseded by the decoupled Single Farm Payment. Member States will have the option to require by-product distillation, paid for out of the national envelope and at a significantly lower level.

    Introduction of Single Farm Payment:
    Decoupled SFP to be distributed to wine grape growers at Member States’ discretion and to all growers who grub up their vines.

    Grubbing-up: A three-year voluntary grubbing-up scheme for a total area of 175,000 hectares with a decreasing level of premium over the three years. A Member State can halt grubbing-up if the area would be more than 8 per cent of that Member State’s total vineyard area or 10 percent of a region’s total area. The Commission can halt grubbing-up if the area reaches 15 per cent of a Member State’s total vine area. Member States can also exclude grubbing-up in mountain and steep slope areas and for environmental reasons.

    Wine-making practices: responsibility for approving new or modifying existing oenological practices will be transferred to the Commission, which will assess the oenological practices accepted by the OIV and incorporate some them into the list of accepted EU practices.

    Better labelling rules: the concept of EU quality wines will be based on wines with Protected Geographical Indications and those with Protected Designation of Origin. Well-established national quality policies will be safeguarded. Labelling will be simpler and, for example, will allow EU wines without GIs to indicate variety and vintage on the label. Certain traditional terms and bottle shapes can continue to be protected.

    Chaptalisation: this will continue to be permitted, although maximum levels of enrichment with either sugar or must will be reduced. For exceptional climatic reasons, Member States may request the Commission to increase the level of enrichment.

    Aid for the use of must: must aid may be paid in its current form for four years. After this transitional period, expenditure on must aid will be transformed into decoupled payments to wine producers.

    Source: European Commission (via eubusiness.com)

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