PRESS RELEASE | COVID-19: wine appellations call for urgent regulatory and market measures to deal with the crisis

Brussels, 14 April 2020

EFOW, the European Federation of Origin Wines, has written to Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski to explain the dramatic situation wine appellations are facing following the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis. EFOW’s members are urging the European Commission to act swiftly through concrete regulatory and market measures to help operators navigate these troubled waters.

EFOW’s President, Mr. Bernard Farges, explains: “The COVID-19 crisis adds to other on-going crises faced by the wine sector in export markets, namely the 25% ad valorem US tariffs and the difficulties faced in Asian countries. There has already been a significant loss of sales and income brought by the closure of the HORECA and other distribution channels. The only marketing channels that are still active in most Member States are the wholesale retailers and e-commerce. However, many wine appellation operators are not present in supermarkets and the e-commerce channel is still highly under-developed in our sector. Many GI wines operators are barely moving wines except for occasional export operations. The crisis has also a devastating impact on wine export markets, wine-makers’ activities and the oenotourism sector “.

EFOW’s members want a number of budget neutral regulatory measures to be swiftly implemented to help operators adapt to this new reality (i.e. one-year extension of planting and replantings authorisations, flexibility in the vintage year and temporary specification amendments). Moreover, they call on the EU Commission to provide Member States with full flexibility regarding the use of tools and budget available in the Wine National Support Programmes. Considering the huge impact of the crisis, EFOW also underlines the need for a specific financial support to implement market measures.

EFOW’s President, Mr. Bernard Farges, stresses: “Swift and courageous measures must immediately be taken to avoid the worst possible scenario for many operators in the wine sector. EU policymakers must keep in mind that there is just no alternative to wine production in many rural areas across the EU. Operators need support immediately to survive this crisis. Tools are available in the common market organisation regulation so we hope that the European Commission will make full use of them without delay. The future of our sector depends on it.”