Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

EU grubbing-up plan rejected four to one

Published:  23 July, 2008

European parliamentarians have voted 484 to 129 against Commission grubbing-up proposals, showing the strength of feeling against reducing the size of the European vineyard.

Although the vote will not change policy at the Commission, it demonstrates that a 12% reduction in the total vineyard area, put forward by commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel, is unlikely to take place.

A Commission insider has admitted that the reduction will probably be half that amount: We would have gone for more than 12% initially if we expected to end up with 12% for the final legislation in July. It's unlikely that many of our proposals will survive unscathed the many nights of negotiations by 27 ministers.'

Katerina Batzeli, a Greek member of the European Parliament's socialist group, insisted: There's no way that grubbing-up can become the focal point for reform of the market. There should be a limited degree of vine destruction because the practice threatens to undermine mountainous and remote regions.'

The watered-down legislation is likely to include a limit on grubbing-up by individual producers, with national governments able to veto the practice in certain areas, particularly Greece, Portugal and Germany. There's a fear that winemakers will take the compensation being offered and rip out all their vines,' said a Commission spokesperson. The Germans are particularly upset because they say the Mosel in parts is good for nothing but winemaking and they don't want the heritage of the area to be ruined.'

Agriculture minister Fischer Boel is still holding out for a significant reduction of vineyard area. We are producing too much wine for which there is no market,' she said. We spend half of our 1.2 million budget on distilling wine, which is a ridiculous way to use taxpayers' money.'

The Commission aims to end distillation of excess wine, which means 12%, or 400,000 hectares of vines, will have to come out eventually. People have been living off our regime for some time,' said the Commission insider. It's laughable that producers in Languedoc Roussillon complain about us when the only reason they're in business is because we spend billions distilling their wine.'