The European Commission has presented its controversial plans to reform the continent’s struggling wine industry. Explaining that excess production cost Europe some 500 million euros in subsidies, EU Agriculture Commissioner Marianne Fischer-Boel announced incentives to take some 200 000 hectares out of production.
The programme is the result of a year long negotiation with the industry – the commission had originally wanted 400 000 hectares of vineyards ripped out. “The most important market stabilization measure will be an attractive financial incentive during the first five years of the reform allowing growers who can no longer compete to step out of the wine production by dropping their wines,” she said.
Boel said savings made would be reinvested in marketing EU wines overseas. European producers are facing ever stiffer competition at home and abroad from New World producers such as Chile and Australia, whose modern marketing techniques and cost efficient manufacture is winning over consumers. “I’ve been buying new world wines for three years now,” said one Dutch shopper. “They’ve got all the different varieties of grape and I like them as much as French wine.”
The EC also plans to allow labels to manufacture their wine outside the region of origin – a move that’s angered traditionalists who fear quality might suffer…