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EU-US wine trade accord will enhance protection of European names and safeguard EU’s biggest market

European Commission - IP/05/1145   15/09/2005

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IP/05/1145

Brussels, 15 September 2005

EU-US wine trade accord will enhance protection of European names and safeguard EU’s biggest market

The European Union and the United States have reached a first phase agreement on trade in wine which will protect EU wine names and secure the EU’s biggest and most valuable wine market. Under the accord, the US administration will make a proposal to Congress to change the status of EU wine names such as Burgundy, Champagne, Chablis, Chianti, Madeira, Malaga, Port, Sherry and Tokay currently considered semi-generic terms in the US, and limit their use in the US. The US will also exempt the EU from its new certification requirements, accept the main principles of EU labelling rules and pledge to seek to resolve any bilateral issues concerning trade in wine through informal bilateral consultations rather than through dispute settlement mechanisms. The two sides have also undertaken to build on the agreement by starting to negotiate a more ambitious second-phase accord 90 days after the entry into force of this agreement.

Mariann Fischer Boel, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, welcomed the agreement: "I am delighted we have managed to finalise this very important agreement, after 20 years of on-off negotiations. The US is our biggest market, importing EU wine worth about € 2 billion in 2004. This deal will remove the legal uncertainty which has hung over this trade for several years and benefit producers on both sides of the Atlantic. The conclusion of this first-phase agreement will pave the way for future close cooperation with the US in the wine sector.”

Background

The main elements of the agreement are:

The US and EU explicitly recognise each others’ wine names as “names of origin”.

The US administration will propose to Congress to change the status and to limit of use of 17 European wine names [1] which are currently considered as semi-generics in the US.

The US accepts the main principles of EU labelling rules and agrees to seek to resolve any bilateral issues concerning trade in wine through informal bilateral consultations rather than through dispute settlement mechanisms.

The US is allowed to use under certain conditions and for a limited period of time, 14 EU traditional expressions[2].

The EU recognises the US wine-making practices which are currently approved in the US. However, those practices which are not covered by existing EU derogations will only be accepted for wines exported to the EU once the US changes the status of the 17 EU wine names which are considered as semi generics in the US.

EU wine exports, including exports of wines below 7% of alcohol, are exempted from the US certification requirements adopted in late 2004. Once the US has changed the status of the 17 EU wine names currently considered as semi-generics in the US, it will benefit from very simplified certification requirements in the EU.

A second phase negotiation will start 90 days after the date of entry into force of the agreement and will, among other things, include a dialogue on geographical indications, a dialogue on the matter of names of origin including the future of the semi-generic terms, a dialogue on the use of traditional expressions, low alcohol wines, certification, wine-making practices and the creation of a joint committee on wine issues.

Both Parties also agree to exchange views on wine matters affecting international trade and on how international cooperation covering wine matters might be best structured.


[1] Burgundy, Chablis, Champagne, Chianti, Claret, Haut-Sauterne, Hock, Madeira, Malaga, Marsala, Moselle, Port, Retsina, Rhine, Sauterne, Sherry and Tokay.

[2] Château, classic, clos, cream, crusted,/crusting, fine, late bottled vintage, noble, ruby, superior, sur lie, tawny, vintage and vintage character.


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