Planting Rights : Meeting of the High Level Group Firmness and Vigilance are needed

Brussels, April 20, 2012 – Further to the position adopted by 15 Member States and the European Parliament, Commissioner CIOLOS announced on the occasion of Green Week in Berlin, in January, the creation a High Level Group. The first group meeting was held on April 19th in Brussels. Professionals from the wine sector must remain firm and vigilant.

Unlike what happened in the milk sector at the High Level Group (HLG) on milk, no obligation of result has been assigned to the HLG on planting rights. The Commission only expects this group to make recommendations by the end of October 2012 (and not a legislative proposal as it did in the milk sector). The representative of origin wines who participated in the meeting, Mr. Riccardo Ricci Curbastro, the President of the European Federation of Origin Wines (EFOW) said: we wish to remain constructive and will make specific proposals in the context of this group. But the Commission cannot rest on mere recommendations and will have to provide concrete proposals in the short term that is to say in the framework of the ongoing CAP reform.”

To avoid unnecessary controversy following comments made that morning by Commissioner CIOLOS on “simplistic statements and politicking” around this topic, wine professionals respond that the Commission should be listening and should respect the position expressed by 15 Member States (69% of the EU population) representing 99% of wine production and supported by the European Parliament in the Dess report. It must address these concerns and make some concrete proposals.

Wine makers also challenge the economic analysis presented by the Commission in the framework of the HLG. They point out that Australia was cited as the model organization in 2008 during the last wine reform; it is no longer the case as Australia has planted massively and is experiencing an unprecedented crisis and has to engage into large grubbing up of vines. Riccardo Ricci Curbastro stated: ” The EU has spent over one billion euros for the grubbing up of more than 150,000 hectares in the last three years and now the Commission will fully liberalize the planting of vines throughout the EU, this is madness! “

European wine producers call for maintaining a regulation of the production potential in all the Member States that apply it today and for all categories of wines and ask for a practical solution to be found in the next CAP reform. “Neither the full liberalization of planting nor a total ban on planting is the right answer. We need to continue our development in a balanced way and under fair competition rules between Member States. The debate on the regulation of plantations goes well beyond the purely economic interests of the sector. This debate is also about regional planning, landscape, environment, quality, diversity, culture and a rich fabric of family farms. We urge the Commission to listen and to be ambitious”, concluded Riccardo Ricci Curbastro

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