Tuesday, 15 April 2008

EU threat to local wine-makers (my mate Daniel Hannan MEP)

Daniel Hannan has taken up the cause of a fruit wine maker who faces a £30,000 bill because of a new EU Directive on bottle sizes.
Jerry Schooler of Lurgashall Winery has been told that his liqueurs, meads and fruit wines must be sold in 70, 50 or 35 centilitre bottles, rather than the 75 and 37.5 centilitre bottles he has been using for 24 years.
But Daniel believes that the ban has no basis in law. The European Directive under which standards officers claim to be acting provides for exemptions for small firms. The Directive lays down that “nominal quantities should generally not be subject to regulation at Community or national level”. It also specifies that “in certain sectors such deregulation could result in disproportionately high extra costs, especially for small and medium sized enterprises. For these sectors, therefore, existing Community legislation should be adapted in the light of experience”.
Daniel said: “If Lurgashall Winery doesn’t qualify for an opt-out under the terms of this Directive, who does? It’s a small firm, employing nine full-time and three part-time staff. It would suffer disproportionately from the compliance costs. All it is asking is to be allowed to provide customers with what they want”.
Daniel has officially asked European Commission to offer Mr Schooler an exemption from the rules. He is also informally urging the Enterprise Commissioner, G√ľnter Verheugen, to step in and solve what he calls “a remediable injustice”. At the very least, Daniel has asked for a suspension of the rules so that Mr Schooler can continue to use his existing corks, boxes and labels until they have been exhausted, and then gradually make the transition to the new sizes.
Daniel said: “Jerry is an award-winning wine producer, whose clients include royal palaces and the National Trust. If he is happy to sell bottles of a certain size, and if his customers are happy to buy them, what business has Brussels in coming between them and declaring such sales illegal?”
In December,
the EU threatened the entire English wine-making industry by seeking to impose ceilings on productions. A consequence of global warming is that the English Home Counties are now the fastest-growing wine producing region in Europe, and so stood to be hardest hit. Daniel and other MEPs managed to remove the proposed quota, and so preserved the competitors of local vintners.
Daniel said: “One consequence of climate change is that a higher acreage of southern England is now given over to viticulture than at any time since the reign of Henry II, during the last period of European warming. Our wine-makers stand or fall by the quality of their produce. They have never asked the EU for subsidies: unlike some of their rivals, they have stayed out of the Common Agricultural Policy. All they want is for Brussels to leave them free to compete”.

Read Daniel's blog on

The EU's hideous strength
Vive Sarko!
The sceptics were right before their time

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