The main points of the proposal are:
- remove 400,000 hectares of vineyards (roughly 11% of EU total) over 5 years at a total cost of Euro 2,4 million.
- allow to a limited extent the mixing of European and non-European wines
- eliminate minimum alcohol content rules
- reduce chaptalisation (increase of alcohol content in the early stages of fermentation by adding sugar) currently allowed for certain regions from 4% to 2%
- simplify labelling rules (more focus on wineries less on official classifications)
- abolish the annual subsidies for distillation and market support (Euro 500 million)
A vicious battle is preprogrammed. The proposal will undermine the AOC system - from France's point of view it should be introduced in all of Europe! The Germans will fight the chaptalisation reduction. Italians will probably agree, but do what they want anyway. The French government will play for time - at least until after the April 2007 Presidential elections. Taking on the interest groups is suicidal in France, as both centrist and socialist governments have found out in the past. Apparently it has to get a lot worse before meaningful reforms can be achieved - not only in the wine industry. Vive l'inertie!