Allegrini 2018

On the “Wine Sector” agenda: WHO fighting against alcohol, promotion, and the Prosek issue

Alleanza Cooperative, Assoenologi, Cia, Confagricoltura, Copagri, Federdoc, Federvini and Unione Italiana Vini meeting with Minister Patuanelli
The “Wine Supply Chain” meeting with Minister Patuanelli

The Wine Sector has officially asked the Minister of Agricultural Policies, Stefano Patuanelli, who, together with Undersecretary Gian Marco Centinaio, for the first time met the presidents of the wine sector organizations, Alleanza Cooperative, Assoenologi, Italian CIA-Agricoltori, Confagricoltura, Copagri, Federdoc, Federvini and Unione Italiana Vini (UIV), to discuss the most pressing issues concerning the sector.

The first issues on the discussion table were the plan to fight cancer, developed at the European level and implementing the report on alcohol strategy by the World Health Organization (WHO), which contains proposals that could cause serious prejudices to Italian wine. In the document presented, the Commission indicated several actions it intends to implement to achieve the goal of reducing alcohol abuse. The plan is sustained by a parliamentary report draft that further strengthens the Commission’s indications and risks giving them political legitimacy. Furthermore, the WHO, in the specific action plan, intends to reduce alcohol consumption by 20% (and not the “abusive” consumption of alcohol) by 2030. “Both documents”, explained the representatives of the “Wine Sector”, “are at a rather advanced stage of the discussion. It is essential that Italy carry out, through official acts, and in all the appropriate forums, examples of balance, common sense and rationality; that is, those elements that have always distinguished the Italian position. It must avoid fiscal recommendations and prohibition-type regulations, which, far from affecting abuse, have the potential to inflict unjustified damage to Italy’s flagship segment of the agro-food sector and which penalize moderate consumption of wine, one of the main components of the Mediterranean diet, recognized by UNESCO as a Cultural Heritage of Humanity”.

The other urgent issue is promotion. A reform has been launched in Europe, which, instead, risks excluding wine products from accessing the budget dedicated to promotional activities in Europe and around the world. Therefore, the wine sector asked Minister Patuanelli to pay greater attention to the issue to make sure that the sector is not excluded from the projects that have made it possible, over the years, to achieve excellent results in terms of value and exports. The wine sector organizations also have reiterated the need to be involved in the definition of the National institutional communication plan for the sector that the Ministry of Agriculture has decided to adopt.

And then, the Prosek issue was discussed. The “Wine Sector” greatly appreciated the support of the Government and establishing a specialized working group, which has seen its first action take place. That is, the meeting in the Senate of the Republic of the Councilors to the Agriculture of Veneto, Friuli Venezia Giulia and Piedmont, who repeated that they are playing “a game that already has a strong group of producer Consortiums lined up to fight against the Croatian Prošek. The group also intends to team up with all the players in National and International politics. “We are aware that Prošek is a different product”, said the Councilor for Agriculture of the Veneto Region, Federico Caner, “but we must fight the principle of Italian sounding abroad. After all, the very name Prošek brings to mind the Italian bubbles. If there is a European standard, I really do not understand why the door should be opened to these recognitions, which only create confusion to the consumer. Having said that, we have prepared a document that has been approved by the Conference of the Regions and is being carried forward by the Agricultural Policy Commission, which we have sent to the Minister responsible for these matters. We unanimously ask that all initiatives be activated to oppose Croatia's request. At this point, the game must be ended in Brussels”. The Wine Sector reiterated, “it is now necessary to standardize the issues in order to solidly defend rejecting the recognition of the Croatian Traditional Mention.

Finally, the imminent deadlines of the CMO, Common Market Organization wine and the single standard on sustainability were represented and discussed, as well as the difficulties regarding payments on storage, yield reduction and also granting new authorizations. “The Ministry of Agriculture and the entire Government cannot allow elements to affect a dominant sector of the Country's economic policy”, underlined Minister Stefano Patuanelli. Concerning promoting wine abroad, Patuanelli reiterated that “the value of healthy wine promotion cannot be questioned. Consumers need to be informed and their awareness of consumption increased. The theme of promotion is central because the consumer must be informed and not conditioned. It is the same battle that we are carrying forward against Nutriscore, the 5 Color Nutrition label, a system that conditions rather than informs”. Lastly, regarding the question of registering the mention of Croatian Prošek, the Minister stressed that, “Italian Sounding cannot be institutionalized”. “It is necessary to go to Europe united and in unison”, added the Undersecretary of Agricultural Policies, Gian Marco Centinaio. “We have decided to give a legal approach to this game that concerns all denominations. If we yield on the Prošek issue, we then will risk opening a leak in all the Italian and European denominations”.

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