In a report, the European Court of Auditors criticises EU aid for the restructuring and conversion of vineyards. Among other things, the €500 million annual programme in the Spanish region of La Mancha has "little or no environmental ambition" and "no clear impact on competitiveness".
According to a report by the Spanish government, Spain has received 2.48 billion euros from the EU for the restructuring of vineyards since 2001. Half of the money went to Castilla-La Mancha, the largest wine-growing region in Europe. As a result, many vines were converted from Buscherziehung to trellis training to enable mechanised cultivation and more efficient production. However, this requires significantly higher water consumption. Due to the drought in recent years, Tempranillo yields fell by as much as 30 to 50 per cent in 2023. Despite the small harvest volumes, the falling demand for red wines has led to a surplus of 11 million hectolitres of unsold red wine, as the regional government of Castilla-La Mancha announced in September. As a result, many producers have come under severe economic pressure.
The European Court of Auditors criticises the allocation of aid money for the wine industry in five countries for the fact that only the minimum amount of five percent of the sums were earmarked by the member states for environmental and climate targets. Large amounts for restructuring were provided without environmental targets. The report states: "EU policy has not proved successful in making winegrowers more competitive. In the five countries reviewed, projects are funded regardless of content or ambition and without regard to criteria to promote competitiveness. Non-structural changes or normal renovation of vineyards are also financed, although such measures are not justified. Moreover, beneficiaries are not obliged to report on how the restructuring has made them more competitive. Furthermore, neither the European Commission nor the Member States assess how the supported projects actually contribute to making winegrowers more competitive."
In response to the report, the European Commission stated that there are now greater environmental objectives under the reformed Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and that these changes should be taken into account.
(al / source: wine-searcher)