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Freedom to the vines? Should planting rights be abolished?

>> Friday, February 18, 2011

A few years ago the EU countries agreed a big reform of the wine production sector. A big part of this was the abolishment in time of the “planting rights” system. (It was also suggested that chaptalisation, adding sugar to increase the alcohol level, should be forbidden but winemakers protested too much.)

The planting rights system means that you must obtain a permit to plant new vines and these “rights” are severely limited. Instead, it was agreed, people would be allowed to plant vines more or less as they want. On the other hand – if they couldn’t sell their wines they should not expect subsidies. (The current/old system provides subsidies for unsold wines.)

The whole reform was created to make the European wine industry more internationally competitive. Now, some politicians are starting to say that planting rights should be maintained and that the government(s) should continue to control and “manage” vine plantings. The last one out was president Nicolas Sarkozy in France. Last year it was chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany.

Just recently an organisation called AREV has joined in the choir. AREV is an organisation that brings together various wine regions around Europe. They have a habit of supporting measures that protect the wine growers from competition and from change. But that rarely benefit the consumers.

The French wine writer Hervé Lalu has written a very interesting article on his blog that argues that this is a bad idea; that the wine industry and the wine consumers will be better off if the system with planting rights is abolished. In fact, maintaining planting rights is just one way for the “old-generation” current wine producers to try and protect themselves from competition.

We agree with Hervé Lalu, that that position is outdated, wine consumers and wine producers will be better off without the old protectionist system. Down with planting rights! Read Hervé’s article here (Use Google Translate if you don’t read French!): Droits de plantations, la polémique continue... mais est-ce la bonne?


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