New report warns red tape on EU wine imports will cause ‘chaos and price hikes’

Jacopo Mazzeo

Jacopo Mazzeo

22 September 2020

A new report from the All Party Parliamentary Group for Wine and Spirits (APPG) warned that the government’s new red tape requirements on imported EU wine after Brexit will push wine prices up for consumers and ‘cause chaos for the wine industry’

The new requirements, which were ‘proposed – voluntarily – by the UK government’, include the introduction of import certificates (VI-1) and lab tests.

The report suggests that unless action is taken, UK consumers will experience a ‘big reduction in range and choice’, and significant prices increase.

‘The APPG report on VI-1s lays bare the disastrous impact these costly and unnecessary tests and paperwork will have on British business and the UK’s 33 million wine consumers,’ commented Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association. ‘At the end of the year wine drinkers will be facing price hikes and inevitably find that some of their favourite European wines will vanish from the shelves. It’s madness! More than half our wine comes from Europe.

‘Instead of choosing to suspend and reduce red tape and costs for wine,’ continued Beale, ‘Ministers have elected to apply additional burden and some £100m in costs for UK businesses and consumers. And with no idea where the lab testing capacity will come from. Deal or no deal – it is within government’s gift to reverse this decision. It is baffling why the politicians seem hell bent on pushing up prices for British consumers and punishing British business.’

Indeed, the report claims that the red tape could cause businesses to fold or relocate outside the UK; it also warns that ‘job losses are inevitable, and the treasury will lose tax revenue’. 

‘Wine import certificates were designed by the European Union to make importing wine from outside the EU more difficult,’ explained APPG co-chair, Neil Coyle MP. ‘The UK is the second largest importer of wine, by volume and by value, in the world. About 99% of wine consumed in the UK is imported and it makes no sense for the UK Government to retain or extend these costs. This would contradict the government’s claim of opening up the country to world trade and would hit consumers and our economy.’

Meanwhile, APPG co-chair Helen Grant MP said: ‘The United Kingdom is an important world wine hub with generations of experience, the largest bottling warehouse in Europe, and hosting a world leading fine wine trade. I hope officials will consider our recommendations and remove barriers to trade, incorporate new technology and reduce bureaucracy.’

An amendment on the Agriculture Bill, calling for a review of the red tape, was proposed this week by Lord Holmes of Richmond.

‘My amendment not only seeks to highlight the potential damage the introduction of VI-1 forms would cause to the UK wine industry,’ he said, ‘but also help show the major opportunity we have to revolutionise the way the UK wine industry operates outside the EU, boosting our technology business’ and put the UK at the forefront of innovation in moving goods.’

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