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Scrapping EU wine laws offers ‘£180m boost’, claims UK government

Proposed changes to retained EU laws on wine production and marketing will allow winemakers to choose from a wider range of vines, including more disease resistant varieties, the UK government said.

It also said importers will be able to blend bulk wine in the UK, and they will be permitted to carbonate, sweeten or de-alcoholise it, too.

Coffey claimed the changes will ‘put a rocket under our winemakers’ businesses’ and give them the ‘freedom they need to thrive’.

Ministers initially pledged to remove all 4,000 EU rules that remain on the UK statute book by the end of 2023 via the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill, but the list has been cut to 600 – reportedly sparking in-fighting among different factions of the Conservative Party.

The bill will head back to the House of Commons this week, where the government will try to reverse several amendments passed in the House of Lords.

Several EU laws affecting the UK wine industry are still scheduled to be axed. The reforms would free producers and importers from ‘unnecessary red tape’, according to Coffey.

Producers will be able to make and market no and low-alcohol wines, and also sell piquette from by-products, the government said.

Any bottle of wine could feature a variety and vintage without the supplier having to apply for a permit to do so. Another proposed change removes the need for sparkling wines to have foil caps and mushroom stoppers.

Coffey suggested that scrapping 400 pages of EU regulations governing the UK wine trade could cut the cost of an average bottle of wine by £0.50.

Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA), said the changes will boost innovation and should allow for common back labels in the UK and EU, helping to ‘maintain the UK as an attractive market for all producers’.

An upcoming consultation will seek views on the scope and timing of proposed changes, the government said.

Some importers have previously said Brexit contributed to higher costs. The WSTA’s Beale also reiterated on Twitter today that the UK is heading for its single biggest wine duty tax rise in around 50 years on 1 August 2023.

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