15.2.2012   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 43/67


Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on the ‘Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the definition, description, presentation, labelling and the protection of geographical indications of aromatised wine products’

COM(2011) 530 final — 2011/0231 (COD)

2012/C 43/15

Rapporteur: Mr ESPUNY MOYANO

On 14 September 2011 the Council, and on 15 September 2011 the European Parliament, decided to consult the European Economic and Social Committee, under Article 43 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, on the

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the definition, description, presentation, labelling and the protection of geographical indications of aromatised wine products

COM(2011) 530 final — 2011/0231 (COD).

The Section for Agriculture, Rural Development and the Environment, which was responsible for preparing the Committee's work on the subject, adopted its opinion on 21 November 2011.

At its 476th plenary session, held on 7 and 8 December (meeting of 7 December), the European Economic and Social Committee adopted the following opinion by 186 votes to 4, with 8 abstentions.

1.   Conclusions and recommendations

1.1

The European Economic and Social Committee welcomes the Proposal for a Regulation on the definition, description, presentation, labelling and the protection of geographical indications of aromatised wine products, which simplifies, updates and replaces the specific EU rules for these products (Council Regulation (EEC) No 1601/91 laying down general rules on the definition, description and presentation of aromatised wines, aromatised wine-based drinks and aromatised wine-product cocktails (1) and Commission Regulation (EC) No 122/94 on rules on flavouring and addition of alcohol to certain products (2)).

1.2

The EESC notes that this proposal for a regulation is essentially restricted to simplifying and modernising this system, which has enabled the internal market in these products to function properly, ensuring that consumers are provided with correct information and protection, with a view to bringing it into line with legislative developments in the field of wine quality policy, WTO rules and the provisions of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (‘the Treaty’), by introducing certain adjustments of a technical nature aimed at making the following improvements in particular:

to enhance the applicability, readability and clarity of the Union legislation on aromatised wine products;

to strengthen and update the quality policy for these products, enhancing the quality and reputation that these products have achieved in the internal market and on the world market, based on the definitions currently in force, updating certain sales denominations and allowing the possibility to increase the level of wine instead of directly adding agricultural alcohol, and so ensuring that the consumer is properly informed;

to adapt the rules for producing these products to new technical requirements and possibilities;

to adapt the Union rules to WTO requirements, including the TRIPs Agreement;

to update the criteria guiding recognition of new geographical indications.

2.   Introduction

2.1

The European Commission proposes updating the rules applicable to the definition, description, presentation, labelling and protection of geographical indications of aromatised wine products, so as to enhance the quality and reputation that these products have achieved in the internal market and on the world market, to take account of technological innovations, market innovations and consumer expectations, while preserving traditional production methods.

2.2

The European Commission proposes that this regulation be applied to all aromatised wine products placed on the market in the European Union whether produced in the Member States or in third countries, with a view to safeguarding the interests of consumers, and to such products produced in the Union for export, with a view to enhancing the reputation of aromatised wine products on the world market.

2.3

The proposal essentially maintains the traditional definitions of aromatised wine products in accordance with traditional quality practices, but updated and improved in light of technological developments, in particular allowing for the possibility of increasing the level of wine rather than directly adding agricultural alcohol. For certain products in the category of aromatised wine-based drinks, it is proposed that the minimum alcoholic strength required be substantially reduced in order to meet an increasing consumer demand for products of lower strength, and in light of technical developments which make it possible to provide a quality which could only previously be guaranteed with higher minimum alcoholic strengths. Specific measures are also provided for on the description and presentation of these products, to complement the Union's horizontal legislation on the labelling of foodstuffs, with a view to preventing other products which do not meet the requirements laid down in this regulation from misusing the sales denominations of aromatised wine products.

2.4

The proposal states that aromatised wine products must be produced in accordance with rules which guarantee that consumer expectations as regards quality and production methods are met. In order to meet the international standards in this field, in line with the provisions for wine products, these rules should generally speaking be based on the recommendations published by the International Organisation of Wine and Vine (OIV).

2.5

The proposal provides for specific rules on the protection of the geographical indications of these products, which are not covered by Regulation No XXXX/20YY of the European Parliament and of the Council on agricultural product quality schemes [COM(2010) 733 final], Regulation No XXXX/20YY of the European Parliament and of the Council on establishing a common organisation of agricultural markets and on specific provisions for certain agricultural products (Single CMO Regulation) [COM(2010) 799 final] and Regulation (EC) No 110/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the definition, description, presentation, labelling and the protection of geographical indications of spirit drinks and repealing Council Regulation (EEC) No 1576/89, establishing an EU procedure for the registration, compliance, alteration and possible cancellation of third country and Union geographical indications in line with the system for products of the wine sector.

2.6

The proposal also makes the amendments needed to align the powers conferred upon the Commission pursuant to Regulation (EEC) No 1601/91 and Regulation (EC) No 122/94 to Articles 290 and 291 of the Treaty.

2.7

The proposal has no financial impact on the Community budget.

3.   Comments

3.1

The EESC welcomes the Proposal for a Regulation on the definition, description, presentation, labelling and the protection of geographical indications of aromatised wine products.

3.2

Aromatised wine products are important for consumers, producers and the agricultural sector in the Union. The EU accounts for approximately 90 % of world production of these products (around 3 million hl per year) and consumes around 2 million hl per year. The EU's main producer countries are Italy, France, Spain and Germany, although there are traditional products embedded in the cultures of many other Member States, in the north as well as in the centre and the east of Europe. These products also constitute a significant market in quantitative and qualitative terms for the European wine sector's value chain, providing a stable outlet for European wine production, white wines in particular, contributing to the balance of the wine market and increasing its competitiveness, which is one of the key objectives of the CAP for this sector.

3.3

The measures proposed help to enhance the reputation achieved by these products in the internal market and on the world market, preserving their traditional production methods and bringing them into line with consumer expectations and technological innovation, where it helps to improve quality, ensuring a high level of consumer protection, market transparency and the conditions for fair competition amongst operators.

Brussels, 7 December 2011.

The President of the European Economic and Social Committee

Staffan NILSSON


(1)  OJ L 149, 14.6.1991, p. 1.

(2)  OJ L 21, 26.1.1994, p. 7.