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EU gives wine producers €450 mln to renovate vineyards

The European Union allocated €450 million ($567 million) to help winemakers reorganize or convert their vineyards as the bloc grapples with surpluses that lead to higher costs for producers and lower prices for wine.

EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel has been pressing governments including France, Italy and Spain, the world's biggest winemakers, to back plans to overhaul the region's €1.3 billion wine budget. The payment announced today will assist producers who want to change grape types, improve their management techniques or relocate their vineyards. “Improving the quality of the wine we produce is a top priority if we are to fend off the challenge posed by New World wine producers” in countries such as the US., Australia and Chile, Fischer Boel said in a statement issued in Brussels. The best way to shore up Europe's winemaking industry is to reduce a surplus estimated at 15% of production in 2010 and then cut costs by ending producers' rights to plant new vines, Fischer Boel has said. Such a future surplus would double the current waste and compound the problem of falling consumption and growing imports. Spanish and French wine producers will get most of the money allocated by the EU. Spain will receive €159.5 million while France will get €111 million. Winemakers in Italy will be given €99.8 million and those in Portugal will get €32.6 million, with the rest being divided up among 10 other EU governments. (Bloomberg)