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WSTA joins forces to fight new EU labelling

Published:  23 July, 2008

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has been working with the Comit Europen des Enterprises Vins (CEEV) on a submission to the European Commission, to respond to the suggestion that allergen warnings on wine labels would have to be written in each EU member state's language.

John Corbet-Milward, head of technical and international affairs at the WSTA, said: The wine sector has always supported the EU initiative to make compulsory an indication on sulphites on wine bottles, if this could be justified on public health grounds. However, the unreasonable implementation of a decision in this regard could cause considerable difficulty for the trade.

We are aware that the law enforcement bodies in some EU member states intend to make a narrow interpretation of the stipulation that the warning should be "easily understood by the final consumer", and will demand that the text be written in their native language. This would mean that from 25 November 2005, companies wishing to market their goods in several different EU member states will have to label and stock goods in a multitude of different languages or risk to having their goods removed from the market.'

In its submission, the CEEV is proposing that the regulation should state that the warning shall be given in one or more other official languages of the Community, so that a reasonable consumer in any EU member state can understand it'. As accepted in several cases by the European Court of Justice, this might not necessarily be only the language of the country of consumption: an average consumer, reasonably well informed, is deemed to be able to understand languages other than his/her own.

This approach - which was initiated by the WSTA - will allow for some flexibility that will enable the private sector, both in the EU and in Third Countries, to reach agreement with member states in the Community on the language needed to be understood by the final consumer, without restricting the free movement and trade of wine products between the various EU markets,' added Corbet-Milward.