A distinguished panel of speakers will be revealing the problems put forward by the reform and their possible solutions
Parting from the initial approach of offering an alternative to surplus production of wine in the EU, the reform of the current Common Market Organization of Wine started almost a year ago with quite a bit of controversy, this with the proposal of Mariann Fischer Boel, Commissionaire of Agriculture in the EU. The idea was to favor competitiveness of the sector, both on a domestic level and on the global markets. That was the moment when so much was written about the elimination of 400,000 hectares of vineyard.
The date for publication by the European Commission of the final document on the reform of the Common Market Organization of Wine is foreseen for upcoming July 4th. There is no doubt that in the next two months the European viticulture sector is putting a good part of its future on the line, and that the agreements that will finally be reached will be of great importance. In view of this situation, few forums could be as adequate as FENAVIN 2007 to analyze this matter in depth. Thus the reason for the round table 'The New Common Market Organization of Wine', which included in the trade fair's program of activities, has examined the multiple rough edges to be found in this matter.
Manuel López Alejandre (Secretary General of Spain's Viticulture Regulator Boards), Mariano López Benítez (Professor Emeritus of Administrative Law at the University of Cordoba), José Vicente Guillén (Director of the Valencia Institute for Food and Agriculture Quality) and Alipio Lara (Director of the Castilla-La Mancha Institute of Vine and Wine, IVICAM) have been the guest speakers at this activity, the same moderated by Antonio Salinas, Socialist Party Parliament Member, Spokesman of the Agricultural Commission in the Regional Parliament and Technical Engineer.
The round table has analyzed the Commission's proposals and its possible consequences, possibilities to adopt playing rules that are similar to those of the so-called 'emerging production countries', gradual liberalization of plantation rights or measures to be established with regards to distillation of surplus.
Mariano López Benítez, reputed expert in viticulture regulatory and legal matters, has emphasized the importance of the principal of subsidiarity, which grants more prominence to each state in that pertaining to application of the general principles dictated by the Commission. In principle something that seems to be positive, yet in a country as decentralized as Spain it can indeed involve serious inconveniences. The need to amend the confusing gibberish that the current Law on Wine supposes in that concerning figures of quality, official approvals and simplification of these figures at a European level has also been made manifest at the round table.
Manuel López Alejandre has developed a comparative exercise between Spain's and Portugal's current situations. Our neighbor country enjoys excellent balance between offer and demand, with one of the wines that is most highly consumed in Europe, practically maintaining intact all its hectares of vineyard and it invests important amounts in the promotion of its denominations of origin and it has enviable eno-tourist infrastructures. Alejandre reflects on this matter: "In Portugal all of this decisively contributes to promoting a culture of wine and, therefore, its consumption. Wouldn't it be possible to apply these approaches in our viniculture sector, in a country in which the drop in wine consumption can be seen a mile off?"
After revising the new CMO's first proposals, - increase in competitiveness, balancing out of offer and demand, preservation of good traditions and European viticulture practices and integration of new European Union members - José Vicente Guillén puts the accent on what he calls 'disciplinary to the sector'. Meaning "concepts such as illegal plantations, crisis or good enological practices, must be regulated in equal fashion for all". Moreover, he coincides with the other members of the table in considering the International Vine and Wine Office as a reference in that pertaining to admissible practices. He finally forecasts that: "we are quite probably heading towards liberalization in a unique market, with two different market models and with consumption on the drop".
In Alipio Lara's opinion the key resides in four points: out-and-out defense of the farmers' income; no more inward-looking and favoring of promotion and commercialization through reasonable enological practices; maintaining the financial aspect in that pertaining to history, extension and production; and, finally, diversification. The latter, paying special attention to grape musts and wine alcohols, "which have their own market further beyond mere elimination of surplus, and which must also be defended within the new CMO".