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EU wine policy leaves “sour taste” – auditors

, A new report voices concern about the effect of the EU’s intended actions on wine growers. It says the EU’s wine policy “not only falls short of environmental objectives, but its measures also fail to target the competitiveness of the sector directly.”

The report was published by the EU’s financial watchdog, the European Court of Auditors

The EU wine sector is highly regulated and supported.

Wine growers have received around €500 million of EU money per year to restructure their vineyards and become more competitive.
Since 2016, wine growers have also been able to request authorization to plant additional vines. The purpose of this is to allow controlled growth of production potential (up to a maximum yearly increase of 1 %), while avoiding oversupply.

Joëlle Elvinger, the ECA member who led the audit “Fostering the competitiveness of the wine sector is essential and particularly relevant for the EU, but it should go hand in hand with improved environmental sustainability.
“The least we can say is that, in either objective, EU action still has to deliver.”

In the EU, wines can be red, white, and rosé, but the way they are grown is rarely “green”.

The auditors lament the fact that, despite the large amount of funding involved, the EU’s wine policy has done little for the environment.

The restructuring measure in particular shows little consideration for green goals. In practice, EU money has not been channeled to projects to reduce the impact of wine growing on the climate and/or the environment.

Indeed, it could even have the opposite effect, such as switching to grape varieties that need more water.

Similarly, the 1 % annual increase in vineyard areas, which was extended by an additional 15 years (until 2045), has never been assessed from an environmental perspective.

The outlook is not much brighter: in the new common agricultural policy (CAP), the environmental ambition for the wine sector remains limited, says the report.
The EU is the world’s leading producer, consumer, and exporter of wine.

In 2020, there were 2.2 million wine holdings in the EU, and vineyards covered about 2 % of the EU’s utilized agricultural area. About 80% of the wine produced in the EU comes from Italy, France, and Spain.

Wine growers and winemakers are eligible for CAP financial support.

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