Select Committee on European Union Thirtieth Report


The House of Lords European Union Committee will be conducting an inquiry, via its Environment and Agriculture Sub-Committee (Sub-Committee D), into the current situation of, and the options for reform of, the EU Wine Sector. The purpose of the inquiry is to acquire evidence regarding the arrangements which currently exist within the European Union governing the planting, growing, making, distillation and marketing of wine products and, against this background, to assess proposals for reform which are expected to be put forward by the European Commission in the Spring of 2007. The inquiry will therefore commence early in the 2007 New Year and aim to report before Parliament rises for the Summer Recess in July.

The inquiry will be evidence-based. That is to say, its purpose is to acquire evidence from those involved—including the UK Government; the European Commission; UK, EU and Global Wine Trade and Marketing Organisations; and others with relevant experience and/or expertise in the subject—on the current situation and its problems and on the options for reform.

The Issues

Against this background the Committee hereby invites you to submit written evidence to the inquiry. The Committee would find it helpful if, in addition to any general issues you may wish to raise, you would focus on a number of specific questions. It is recognised that those submitting evidence will not necessarily have an interest in all the questions and may therefore wish to be selective. The questions are:

A. The Need for a Regulation

1. What is the nature of the case for having a wine regime at all—i.e. as distinct from allowing the industry to adjust itself to competitive pressures (e.g. via increased efficiency, rationalisation, diversification, etc)?

2. Why should wine quality—e.g. relating to Geographical Indication—be regulated? Why cannot consumers choose between wines as they do between other products—e.g. on the basis of brand names or other information which might provide a guide to quality?

B. The Market

3. Given the existence of a wine regime, how might a better balance be achieved between the supply of and demand for wine and wine products produced within the EU?

4. Is the EU wine industry, within the current regime, sufficiently competitive within the global wine market? How can it be made more so?

5. Is it to be expected that barriers to trade in wine will continue to diminish as the result of WTO negotiations? If so, what impact can this be expected to have on the cost of the EU wine regime and/or on its effectiveness in protecting farm incomes?

C. Structural Measures

6. Are current measures (e.g. grubbing up, restrictions of planting rights) an appropriate means of bringing supply and demand into balance? What further measures need to be taken in these or other areas?

7. How significant an issue is illicit planting for the supply situation?

8. Is there a case for the continuance of remedial measures ("crisis distillation") to deal with exceptional market conditions?

9. What alternative outlets (i.e. other than wine sales) exist for excess production?

10. What is the potential impact on wine producing areas of liberalisation of the market? How sensitive are these economies to change?

11. How effective have current arrangements been in supporting diversification of rural economies away from the wine sector? What contribution will the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development make, post 1 January 2007, to development of the rural economies of wine-producing regions? What further measures might need to be taken?

D. Marketing

12. Given continuance of an EU wine regime, what are your views on labelling and quality issues? Are current arrangements conducive to consumers understanding what they are buying? Is there scope for rationalisation and simplification?

13. What part has marketing played in the rise in sales within the EU of wine produced outside the Community?

14. What lessons might be learned from the penetration of non-EU wines into the EU market?

E. Wine Making Practices (WMP)

15. How suited are current regulations on WMP to a competitive global market in wine? What changes would you like to see?

16. How should enrichment (with sugar or must) be regulated? Should there be financial aid for enrichment?

F. Environmental and Social Impact

17. To what extent does the wine sector have an impact—favourable and unfavourable—on the EU environment? Are measures needed to support good environmental impact? Should they be selective?

18. To what extent and how should reform of the EU wine regime take into account concerns over the potential for alcohol abuse?

Guidance for Those Submitting Evidence

Submissions of evidence should be sent to:

Robert Preston
Clerk to the EU Environment & Agriculture Sub-Committee
House of Lords
London SW1A 0PW

Tel. (020) 7219 4579

Submissions should be copied to:
Alistair Dillon
Committee Specialist
House of Lords
London SW1P 0PW
Tel. (020) 7219 8646

Emailed submissions in Word format are preferred.

The deadline for receipt of submissions of written evidence is 7 February 2007. Please ensure, when submitting evidence, that you include relevant contact details, that your evidence is dated and that you make clear whether it is submitted on a personal basis or behalf of an organisation.

Short submissions (6 pages of A4 size type or less) are preferred. Longer submissions, where these are judged necessary, should be accompanied by a summary. Paragraphs should be numbered. If drawings or charts are included, these should be black and white and of camera-ready quality.

All evidence submitted becomes the property of the Committee and may be printed and published. You may publish your evidence yourself, but in doing so you should indicate that it was prepared for the Committee.

The Committee will invite some of those submitting written evidence to appear before it in order to give oral evidence, usually at Westminster and in public session. Oral evidence sessions are expected to be held between February and April 2007.

This is a public Call for Evidence and you are invited to bring it to the attention of other groups or individuals who may not have received it and who may have a contribution to make to the inquiry. It is open to any individual or group to submit written evidence, subject to the guidance set out above.

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