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31/03/2010

Wines of origin to speak with one voice

(First appeared in La Journée Vinicole, Edition 213, March 31)

Europe’s largest wine of origin federations have banded together to defend their unique specificities as the prospect of a reform of EU product quality policy and the Common Agricultural Policy looms.

Five organisations — Conferencia Española de Consejos Reguladores (Spain), CNAOC (France), Confederazione Nazionale dei Consorzi volontari per la tutela delle denominazioni di origine (Italy), l’Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e Porto (Portugal) and Hegyközségek Nemzeti Tanácsa (Hungary) – officially founded the European Federation of Origin Wines (EFOW) on March 24 in Brussels.

The organisations say that although EU authorities claim to agree on the strategic importance of consolidating the geographical indication system, they are worried that the unique EU model will be undermined when product quality policy and the Common Agricultural Policy are reformed in 2010/2011 and 2013 respectively.

By joining forces, the organisations intend to voice their opposition to excessive market liberalisation and the dismantling of the CAP, as well as market decompartmentalisation or even a renationalisation of agricultural policy.

Although EFOW is a firm believer in open markets, it claims that regulatory tools are nonetheless of paramount importance and will be advocating this policy in the run-up to EU debate on both issues.

For the association’s deputy chair, Christian Paly, wines of origin are not asking for any specific funding, they simply require a legal framework in which market development can be managed “harmoniously” and “potential crises can be averted”.

EFOW not only wants the European Commission to come up with “concrete proposals” along these lines when it reforms its policy of product quality and the CAP, it is also asking the EU to take a stricter stance on protection of European wines of origin in bilateral agreements.

Lastly, the federation is seeking a “more dynamic and ambitious” approach to promotion of wines of origin so that they can regain clout in leading consumer markets, both within the EU and in third countries.

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