Coronavirus: New exceptional support measures for EU wine sector

Written by on July 7, 2020 in Europe - Comments Off on Coronavirus: New exceptional support measures for EU wine sector

The European Commission adopted on July 7 an additional package of exceptional measures to support the wine sector, following the coronavirus crisis and its consequences on the sector, the Commission said in a statement.

The wine sector is among the hardest hit agri-food sectors, due to rapid changes in demand and the closure of restaurants and bars across the EU, which was not compensated by home consumption, the Commission said.

These new measures include the temporary authorisation for operators to self-organise market measures, an increase in the EU’s contribution for wine national support programmes, and the introduction of advance payments for crisis distillation and storage.

“The wine sector has been among the sectors hit hardest by the coronavirus crisis and the related lockdown measures taken across the EU,” European Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski said.

“The first package of market-specific measures adopted by the Commission has already provided significant support. Nonetheless, the uncertainties surrounding the scale of the crisis at EU and global level, and a close monitoring of the market has led us to propose a new package of measures for the wine sector,” Wojciechowski said.

“I am confident that these measures will provide rapidly concrete results for the EU wine sector and soon provide stability.”

The exceptional measures include:

  • Temporary derogation from the European Union’s competition rules: Article 222 of the Common Markets Organisation Regulation (CMO) allows the Commission to adopt temporary derogations from certain EU competition rules in situations of severe market imbalances. The Commission has now adopted such a derogation for the wine sector, allowing operators to self-organise and implement market measures at their level to stabilise their sector and in the respect of the functioning of the internal market for a maximum period of six months. For example, they will be allowed to plan joint promotion activities, to organise storage by private operators and to commonly plan production.
  • Increase of the EU’s contribution: the EU’s contribution for all measures of the national support programmes will increase by 10 per cent and reach 70 per cent. A previous exceptional measure had already increased it from 50 per cent to 60 per cent. This will provide financial relief to beneficiaries, the Commission said.
  • Advanced payments for crisis distillation and storage: the Commission will allow EU countries to provide advanced payments to operators for on-going distillation and crisis storage operations. These advances can cover up to 100 per cent of costs and will allow member states to fully utilise their national support programme funds for this year.

In addition to these support measures for the wine sector, the fruit and vegetable sector will also benefit from an increase of the EU’s contribution (from 50 per cent to 70 per cent) for programmes managed by producer organisations. This will provide further flexibility to producer organisations in the implementation of their programmes, the statement said.

These measures complement the recently adopted package, which benefited the wine sector through the flexibility provided under market support programmes, the Commission said.

This included, for instance, an increased flexibility of tools to control production potential, the so-called green harvesting tool, and the possibility to include temporary new measures such as the opening of distillation of wine in case of crisis or an aid to crisis storage of wine.

In addition, the Commission has recently launched two calls for proposals for promotion programmes that aim to support the sectors most affected by the crisis, including the wine sector. The two calls will be open until August 27 2020. 

(Photo: Trish Hughes/sxc.hu)

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