EU providing extra e500m for wine reform

27 August, 2008
Page 7 
Wineries across Europe are set to receive e510 million over the next year to adapt their vines and production methods to better meet consumer demand, the European Commission has announced.

The provisional funding plan forms part of a restructuring programme within the EU's annual wine budget. France, Spain and Italy, as the largest producer countries, will again take the lion's share of the e510 million - e162 million, e110 million and e101 million, respectively.

The funding comes this year as the commission prepares to push through major reform to make the EU wine sector more competitive. A similar amount of funding - around e500m - is currently used to collect and distil EU wines that won't sell, as policy critics, such as agriculture commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel, would like to see stopped.

Fischer Boel has repeatedly said she wants more money to be directed at improving Europe's wine quality and marketing. These were central tenets of the commission's wine reform proposal, released in July, alongside a more controversial plan to "grub up" 200,000ha of vines to curb overproduction.

"Improving the quality of the wine is a top priority if we are to fend off the challenge of New World ," Boel said.