BELGIUM (Brussels) - With a late, but determined political solidarity, France beat the EU Commission with a massive support of Italian EU ministers. The EU drops plans to allow the blending of red and white wines to make rose wine, a practice which is already done in Australia and South Africa.
After the European Parliament elections, EU representatives of the press announced today that "there will be no change of production rules for rosé wines". "The winemakers" considerable mobilization against the new regulation has changed our minds.
The final decision of EU member states - experts will then be expected on 19th June. However, after intense lobbying of producers from France, Italy and Switzerland (the latter is not an EU member, but is supporting the protests anyway), they have finally changed the minds of EU politics.
"I am always prepared to listen", explained Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel and added: "Convincing arguments can also require a change." On the corridors of the EU headquarters, diplomats speak of a "gift" to French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
According to Johannes Laitenberger, Commission spokesman of José Manuel Barroso, the European Commission President, "it is a bit odd that the EU commission did not give in at first and was opportunistic despite the vehement protests all over Europe, and has yet folded prior to the actual decision. Surely, within the meaning of tolerance among EU countries, the Commission wanted to avoid turning producers and customers against the European thought again by passing a precarious law."
However, the French government, which did not support its producers openly at the beginning, was activating a lot of assets and political influence when French producers and associations mobilized, which would have been enough for a far more vehement protest, according to diplomats.
"It is satisfying that the EU Commission decided to accept our proposals and to overturn the planned law,"said Xavier de Volontat, head of the General Association of Wine Production (AGPV) in France. "We are all rejoicing that we were spared from the practice of blending white and red wines and that we can continue to apply the traditional method for producing rosé without any restrictions. If the law had been authorized, it would have led to a destruction of the economic and social sector, meaning about 12% of the French wine production."
Michel Barnier, French Agriculture Minister, also welcomed the current decision and talked about "preserving a traditional wine product". His Italian counterpart agreed with him: "The preservation of identity and quality is based on tradition which we have defended for the well-being of winemakers and consumers."(aw.yoopress)