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21.8.

2001 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 235 E/165

There are three main reasons which would justify remedying this situation. First, it is common knowledge
that the new rules have created a considerable imbalance in the European Union, in that two Member
States account for 96 % of the wine distillation quota. Secondly, Portugal’s supplies in potable alcohol are
of vital importance to its production of sweet wines, in particular port. Thirdly, this is the first year of
implementation of the new wine market policy: clearly, those involved in this sector have not been
provided with sufficient information and this calls for flexibility in applying the new rules.

In view of the above:

 would it not be fair to consider the Portuguese applications (approximately 450 000 hectolitres) as
eligible, and under what conditions would the Commission be prepared to do so?

 does the Commission not consider that this part of the new distillation rules should be reviewed in
order to establish a fairer system of distribution among the wine producing Member States?

Joint answer
to Written Questions E-253/01 and P-0358/01
given by Mr Fischler on behalf of the Commission

(12 March 2001)

Distillation of wine to supply the market for potable alcohol was opened on 1 September 2000. The rules
on the application of the measure lay down strict criteria covering the Commission’s obligation to suspend
this distillation measure (or to apply rates of reduction). In particular these concern an overrun, or the risk
of an overrun, in budget resources or in the absorption capacity of the market for potable alcohol. In
early December 2000, those conditions were met and the Commission accordingly suspended the measure
until the beginning of the following wine-growing year.

The Commission confirms that most of the quantities available under the measure were taken up by
contracts with producers and distillers in two Member States, but operators in two other Member States
did submit contracts covering a large percentage of the table wine produced in their countries.

The Commission regrets that Portuguese wine and alcohol producers did not secure contracts under the
measure, which was open to all Community producers. It is aware that the first year of application of any
new measure is a difficult period for all operators.

Nonetheless, in response to the call for a review of the rules covering these distillation measures and
a return to allocation of quantities for distillation by Member State, the Commission would point out that
the abandonment of the former provisions was a key aspect of the reform of the common organisation of
the market in wine (COM) undertaken in 1999. The aim was to bring the provisions governing the COM
for wine more closely into line with the requirements of the market and the development of the
Community, in particular in connection with the single market.

The Commission wishes to draw the Honourable Members’ attention to the fact that where serious
difficulties arise on the wine market in a Member State or a particular wine-growing region, the COM for
wine has an instrument more specifically targeted to dealing with such situations, namely crisis distillation.

In view of the current situation in Portugal which the Honourable Members have described, on
15 February 2001 the Commission put a draft Regulation to the Management Committee for Wine for
the opening of crisis distillation of 450 000 hl of wine in Portugal. The Committee delivered a favourable
opinion on the draft Regulation and it has applied since 5 March 2001.