The European Union head office on Wednesday proposed a drastic overhaul of the continent's wine sector to face up to increasing competition from abroad and eliminate a huge surplus of unmarketable produce.
Under the plan, EU Farm Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel wants to dig up many loss-making vineyards, allow profitable producers to expand and market European quality wine better in emerging markets such as China and India.
Wine producers have criticized the plan as caving in to crass commercialism and globalization while turning its back on centuries of tradition. The plan is to be assessed by the 27 EU member states and the European Parliament before a definitive decision is taken, possibly later in the year.
"We currently waste too much money," said Fischer Boel, adding that more than a third of the $$1.8 billion EU wine budget is spent on eliminating surplus wines.
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