PN260107D

Embargo: Immediate Friday 26 January 2007

Contact: Owen Williams 020 7219 8659

LORDS COMMITTEE TO INVESTIGATE THE EU WINE SECTOR

The House of Lords European Union Committee has launched an inquiry into the EU wine sector and the options for its reform.

The Committee are looking to receive evidence on the current arrangements within the EU governing the planting, growing, making, distillation and marketing of wine. The cost to EU Member States of these arrangements - for example, in subsidising the removal of excess production - is currently in excess of £1billion a year. The Committee will also assess proposals for reform of the regime which are expected to be put forward by the European Commission in spring of this year.

The Committee will be seeking answers to a wide range of questions, including:

  • Whether there is a sustainable case for continuing a system of financial support for over-production or whether the industry should adjust to competitive pressures

  • What other means could be employed to bring supply and demand into a better balance

  • Whether the EU wine industry is sufficiently competitive within the global wine market and how it can be made more so

  • What would be the likely impact on wine producing areas of liberalisation of the wine market

  • How effective current arrangements have been in supporting diversification of rural economies away from the wine sector and what additional measures might be needed

  • What lessons are to be learned from the success of non-EU wines in penetrating the EU market

  • How suited are current production and marketing methods (for example, identifying wines by geographical indication) to an expanding and competitive global market

Commenting, Lord Sewel, Chairman of the EU Agriculture and Environment Sub-Committee, said:

"The EU wine sector is an important part of the economy for many EU Member States. In recent years we have seen a reduction in the amount of wine which is drunk in Europe overall but an increase in imports from outside the Community.

"Our inquiry will seek to identify why this change in consumption patterns has taken place and to what extent the European wine industry is responding adequately to the challenge of increased competition and to examine the policy options which are available to adjust to a changing market.

"This is a timely inquiry as we expect the European Commission shortly to put forward proposals for reform of the EU wine sector and we hope the results of our inquiry will be able to inform this process."

Notes to Editors

1. Full details of the inquiry including the call for evidence are available here: http://www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/lords_s_comm_d.cfm

2. The members of the House of Lords European Union Sub-Committee D (Environment and Agriculture) who will conduct the inquiry are:

Lord Sewel (Chairman)

Lord Bach

Viscount Brookeborough

Lord Cameron of Dillington

Lord Greaves

Baroness Jones of Whitchurch

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

Lord Moynihan

Lord Palmer

Lord Plumb

Viscount Ullswater

[ENDS]