Liberalisation of planting rights: the European Court of Auditors cautions the Commission

On 12 June the European Court of Auditors (ECA) held a press conference in Brussels to report on its opinion regarding EU major areas of spending in the wine sector (“The reform of the Common Market Organisation of the market in wine: Progress to date”, Special Report n°7). The ECA criticises the Commission for not taking the time to evaluate the consequences of the liberalisation of planting rights.

The 2008 decision to liberalise planting rights throughout the EU as of 1 January 2016 continues to generate strong opposition. After the European Parliament and 15 Member States, it is now the ECA that raises some concerns. The Court has published today its opinion on the wine Common Market Organisation (CMO) reform, in particular on major areas of spending, such as the grubbing-up scheme. The European Court of Auditors finds that “the balance between supply and demand is still not achieved” in the wine sector, in spite of a grubbing-up plan that has cost over one billion euros.

The Court deplores the fact that the European Commission did not conduct a thorough impact assessment of consequences of the liberalisation of planting rights. It singles out that this deregulation may cause overproduction and recommends that the Commission takes all the “necessary steps to address any imbalances”, looking also at the issue of planting rights.

EFOW’s (European Federation of Origin Wines) President, Mr. Riccardo RICCI CURBASTRO, stated after the press conference: “we have been denouncing for months the 2008 decision and have emphasised repeatedly the need to maintain a production potential management mechanism for our sector. After the EP and 15 Member States, it is now the guardian of EU public finances that warns the Commission on the potential impact of the liberalisation of planting rights in our sector. We hope that the High Level Group on this issue established at the beginning of the year will lead to concrete proposals in the current CAP reform. ”

In addition, Mr. Ricci Curbastro emphasised that: “there is no more space for ideology; policy makers should be accountable not only to economic actors but also to European taxpayers on the proper use of EU money. In today’s context of budgetary cuts across all EU Member States, the maintenance of a regulation mechanism which has proven its’ positive impact on the sector and which bears no-costs for European taxpayers should be properly addressed. ”

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Pascal BOBILLIER MONNOT : +33 426 12 125

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José Luis LAPUENTE: +34 696 79 51 49

Alberto RIBEIRO DE ALMEIDA : +35 1 222 071 647

David BRAZSIL : +36 14 13 75 27