Wine producers must use EU cash for quality not quantity

  • Friday 8 October 2004

Wine producers in the European Union will use their share of a €450m subsidy payout to uproot high-yield, low-quality vines and replace them with better varieties.

The EU executive announced the subsidies yesterday. New joiners Hungary and Slovakia will receive the payments for the first time.

‘The money will go to farmers to improve production methods and make better quality wine,’ Gregor Kreuzhuber, agriculture spokesman at the European Commission said. ‘For the first time, there is also money going to the new member states.’

Hungary will receive €10.1m in subsidies for 2004/05, and Slovakia will get €2.9m.

Spain has the largest subsidy with €145.5m, while French winemakers will receive €107m. Italy's share is set at €103m.

‘Improvement of the quality of vineyards ... is a priority,’ EU farm commissioner Franz Fischler said.

The EU is concerned about overproduction of low-quality wines, particularly in France and Spain, which often go unsold and are distilled for industrial agriculture.

It says vine growers should focus on higher quality vines that can better compete with rivals in Chile, Australia, the United States and other non-European nations.

In 2003/04, EU farmers received €443m for restructuring and conversion of vineyards.

€1=US$1.23

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