Open letter to the European institutions
The European Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Janusz Wojciechowski
The Presidency of the Portuguese Council, Minister for Agriculture Maria do Céu Antunes
The rapporteur on the Common Organisation of the Markets, Mr Eric Andrieu, Member of the European Parliament
Brussels, 26 January 2021
Dear Madam, dear Sirs,
EFOW – the European Federation of Origin Wines (www.efow.eu) – is very concerned about the future of the vine planting authorisation scheme post-2030. Our organisation feels that the debate around the extension of the system is being manipulated by purely ideological biases and ignores the reality of the life of our terroirs and wine regions.
The Council and the European Parliament adopted strong and clear mandates on this issue: to extend the duration of the current vine planting authorisation scheme with a 1% annual growth. The only question the co-legislators should debate based on their mandate is the end date of the system (2040 – mandate of the Council vs. 2050 – mandate of the European Parliament).
The European Commission, which role is to facilitate the debate and agreement between the co-legislators during trilogues, is exceeding its prerogatives by proposing a 2% annual growth of the European vineyard from 2031 onwards. This compromise proposal does not respect the mandates of the European Parliament and the Council. It is incomprehensible and irresponsible because it seriously jeopardises the continued harmonious development of our sector and goes against some of the objectives of the Green Deal.
EFOW and its members believe it is fundamental to preserve an instrument that allows for an adapted and dynamic growth of the EU vineyard and stress the importance of maintaining the system. This tool guaranteeing a sustainable growth of the vineyard in line with the development of the markets is and should remain a pillar of the EU’s wine policy.
The current vine authorisation scheme helps to prevent crises of overproduction and the subsequent decline in quality. It helps to maintain the diversity of vineyards in difficult areas, allows the development of family farms and encourages the establishment of young winegrowers. In line with the objectives of the “Green Deal”, the 1% growth has enabled winegrowers to seek social, economic and environmental sustainability. Moreover, the current reform has identified important solutions to better enable vineyards to grow to their true potential. This tool is proving particularly useful in a very difficult economic context for the wine sector.
The US retaliatory tariffs on many European appellation wines and the COVID-19 crisis are examples of how the European wine market, which was relatively healthy, can be rapidly destabilised. Member States in collaboration with operators have had to take strong measures to help the markets recover (distillation, private storage, green harvesting, etc.) and risk having to implement new measures again this year.
The COVID-19 crisis is far from over; the consequences on operators will be long-lasting and it will take many years for them to return to pre-crisis levels. Meanwhile, as the European Commission highlights in its report on agricultural market outlook up to 2030, there is a trend towards a continued decrease in wine consumption due to changes in consumer habits.
Against this backdrop, increasing the percentage for vine planting authorisations does not make sense. It would pose serious risks of rural desertification – abandonment of difficult and remote areas – and overexploitation – transfers to areas of high production (from slopes to valleys), lead to price volatility, uncertain income for producers and, as a result, less investment, and a waste of resources due to overproduction.
Finally, it seems obvious to us that today, the European viticulture, especially the EU appellation viticulture, needs certainty and stability. Significantly increasing the percentage of growth in plantations is not what winegrowers are looking for in these troubled times.
The European Parliament and the Council mandates include provisions for a revision clause of the vine planting authorisation scheme. This is a sensible approach as it will allow for the percentage to be discussed then in view of the evaluation of the system and the economic situation.