Wine has so far been excluded from the EU organic regulation, which only extends to the grapes used in wine production. Organic wine has therefore been marketed only as wine produced from organic grapes.
Draft proposals had been under consideration within the Standing Committee on Organic Foodstuffs and a number of bilateral meetings to develop specific standards for organic wine.
Based on an independent study under the Orwine project, these proposals included a lower limit for sulphites and a smaller list of permitted additives and processing aids than in conventional wine. It had also been proposed that five oenological practices be disallowed and three others restricted.
Despite several months of discussion, attempts to find a credible compromise with respect to organic standards failed.
Dacian Cellos, EU commissioner for agriculture & rural development, said: “It is clear that conditions for such new rules are not right in a majority of member states. I am not willing to compromise on organic standards because it sends the wrong signal to consumers on the importance we attach to quality policy.”
Although Cellos said no compromise is possible at present, he said the proposals could be reconsidered at a future date. “Our hope would be that the industry and research can make progress, and Commission can come back to these proposals in future.”
Reacting to the news, Christopher Stopes, president of the organic lobby IFOAM, acknowledged the efforts made by negotiators but said: “It is also a missed chance that the proposal failed to reach agreement at the last minute.”
More reaction to the withdrawal of the plans as well as analysis of the reasons for the failure to reach a compromise will be published in a follow-up article next week.