MEPs vote to keep Britain out of restrictive EU wine regime

Gordon Brown must now deliver in Council of Ministers

Strasbourg, 12th December 2007 — British wine lovers will raise a glass to Conservative MEPs today after the European Parliament backed an amendment, co-authored by Conservative MEPs, increasing the threshold for entry into the EU’s wine regime.

Inclusion in the regime brings a six-year planting ban, which would prevent Britain’s small but booming wine sector from expanding with the demand of the marketplace.

The UK produced 25,000 hectolitres - 3.3 million bottles - of wine in 2006, which is right on the threshold for entering the regime. But voting in the Parliament today on proposals to reform the ‘common organisation of the market in wine’, MEPs called for the threshold to be raised to 50,000 hectolitres. To compare, French wine production for 2006 was 54 million hectolitres.

The vine planting ban was introduced to suppress the surplus of wine produced in countries like France and Spain.

Sir Robert Atkins MEP for the North West of England, said MEPs have today delivered for the British wine industry and now it is time for the British Government to ensure the amendment is passed in the Council of Ministers too.

Sir Robert continued:

“Britain has a small but booming wine industry and we need to ensure it can continue to grow. MEPs have delivered for Britain’s vineyards, now we need the government to get this amendment through the Council of Ministers too.

“Our wine producers respond to market demand. They do not need subsidies from the EU, so they should not be hit by the restrictions of Europe’s wine regime.

“The planting ban is aimed at countries like France, which produce far more wine than there is demand for and expect the European taxpayer to buy up the excess. We need to make wine production far more competitive and customer-focused across Europe and these reforms should scale back the waste of the wine regime, while ensuring competitive producers can thrive.”

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