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Published:  23 July, 2008

Struggling producers throughout Europe have been antagonised by the recent revelation that more than 100,000 hectares (ha) of vines have been illegally planted in Europe since the last meeting of COPA-COGECA (Comits des Organisations Agricoles et des Co-opratives de l'Union Europene). According to French review VSB, the protesters have been further incensed by the legitimisation by the European Commission (EC) of some 150,000ha planted without permission since 1998. A report for the EC on planting rights, a contentious issue given the ongoing surplus situation, has shown that 104,083ha have been illicitly planted since the last review. The two biggest culprits by far are Italy and Spain, each with roughly half the total (51,851ha and 46,531ha respectively). While Spain is credited with making efforts to resolve the situation, Italy has not compiled a comprehensive register of plantings since 1993. Greece is the next largest offender with 5,681ha. As part of the protests against the retrospective recognition of the plantings, Denis Verdier, president of the Confdration des Co-opratives Vinicoles de France, has written to Franz Fishler, European Commissioner for Agriculture, condemning the decision.