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Eurosceptics hold breath

Published:  18 January, 2007

The European Commission's press conference on the Thursday before last was bordering on the farcical, apparently - shades of the Eurovision Song Contest 20 years ago. But it served to illustrate how difficult it is to get anything agreed in this vast sprawling organisation.

Representatives in non wine-producing countries - Ireland, Denmark and The Netherlands - were asked for comments and questions on a conference link and after the most pregnant of pauses accompanied by much cyber noise, feedback was minimal and none were any the wiser.

Anyway, it just goes to demonstrate that there is a long way to go before we see mass grubbings up in southern France, La Mancha, Sicily and Greece.

The news that the EC is to spend 22.2 milion to distil 300,000 hectolitres of quality Spanish wine and 130,000 of quality Greek wine just serves to emphasise further the need to do something.

As more detail has emerged, the prospect of European super-blends - blending Cabernet or Chardonnay from different countries with just a vintage date and variety on the label - is an awesome prospect for major Old World producers. Also Mariann Fischer Boel, the European commissioner, has held out the prospect that once the market was back in balance, they would abolish restrictions on planting rights so producers could produce more wine if they have buyers for it. Game over, it would seem. Not a chance.