As European Union ministers prepare to gather in Riga on Monday for meetings on Health and Consumer Affairs, including a discussion of EU alcohol policy, Matilde Poggi (above, president of the Italian Federation of Independent Grape Growers [FIVI]) has previewed a brief she plans to send to send to Italian health minister Beatrice Lorenzin.
According to a post published today on the Slowine blog, which paraphrases but does not quote the document directly, there are three major points covered in Poggi’s letter to the minister and her colleagues:
1) Paraphrasing Poggi’s brief, the author of the post writes that restrictions on interstate sale of alcohol would counter current agreements between member states.
2) In a document published by the European Commission’s Committee on National Alcohol Policy and Action, there is a proposal for minimum pricing requirements for wine. Minimum pricing regulation would give large producers of commercial wine an unfair advantage, the author writes.
3) A proposition to reduce alcohol levels should not be applied to wine. While it can be applied to industrial products like beer and liquor, wine should be exempt because it is an artisanal product that “depends on climate, grape ripeness, and grape health, etc.”
The “Informal Meeting of the Ministers for Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs” is to be held in Riga next week because Latvia currently holds the EU presidency (the author of the Slowine post reports erroneously that the gathering is to be held in Lithuania and that Lithuania is the current EU president).
“Every year around 70-80% of healthcare costs in the European Union are spent on non-infectious diseases. At the same time, by limiting the main risk factors – smoking, unhealthy diets, lack of physical activity, and alcohol abuse – it is possible to improve quality of life and increase the number of healthy life years, thus making considerable financial savings.”
“The Health Ministers will discuss current alcohol and nutrition policies and future challenges.”
As EU policy on alcohol and Common Market Organization regulation (known as OCM in Italy) continue to evolve, there are growing concerns among Italian winemakers that European wine culture will be stifled by over-regulation and disregard for local tradition.
Poggi, who was recently elected as the vicepresident of the Confédération européenne des vignerons indépendants (European Confederation of Independent Grape Growers [CEVI]), has taken an active role in voicing concerns of independent grape farmers and winemakers.
She has served as the president of FIVI since 2013.