Niagara-on-the-Lake, 16 September 2003
Fischler hails signature of wine and spirits accord as "great achievement for EC-Canada trade relations"
Canada and the EC officially signed their bilateral agreement on trade in wines and spirits at Niagara-on-the-Lake today. The agreement marks the culmination of four years negotiations, and the beginning of a new and co-operative relationship between the EC and Canada on their €500 million bilateral trade in wines and spirits.
Franz Fischler, Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Affairs and Fisheries, said: "This agreement is a great achievement for EC-Canada relations. Five years ago, I met Canadian Minister Lyle Vanclief here in Niagara, and we agreed then to try to resolve our differences." Franz Fischler paid tribute to the foresight of those in the wine and spirits sectors, both in Canada and the EC, who had enabled the agreement to be successfully concluded.
In particular, he highlighted the decision by Canadian winemakers to adopt the "VQA" system of quality standards applied to winemaking. This reflects the European approach and enabled substantial progress on the sensitive issue of winemaking standards. In addition, the decision by Canadian winemakers to turn their backs on use of European names was the key breakthrough needed for an agreement. Mr Fischler commented: "However you look at it, there is something not genuine about using a European name to describe a New World wine. Renouncing these names is a decision Canada's winemakers will not regret." The agreement will be fully implemented in 2013 when the use of 'Chablis', 'Port', 'Sherry' and 'Champagne' will be finally protected exclusively for EU wines.
On the spirits side, Commissioner Fischler praised the transatlantic co-operation in the private sector, which had facilitated a workable compromise on whisky standards and protection of Canadian and European distinctive products, such as 'Grappa', 'Ouzo' and 'Rye Whisky'.
The main elements of the agreement are: