By Conal Walsh
Britain's booming wine industry faces drastic curbs if proposals in Brussels to tackle European-wide overproduction are adopted.
English wine producers are urging the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairsto stop the European Commission imposing a block on new vineyards.
The commission's measure is designed to reduce France's notorious 'wine lake' of surplus stocks that will never be drunk, but could have the side-effect of thwarting Britain's relatively tiny industry, which has grown by nearly 50 per cent in the past five years. Mariann Fischer Boel, the EU's agriculture commissioner, has promised to propose 'bold reform' later this month, which she admits is likely to entail much political wrangling.
In France, increased competition from 'new world' producers and hundreds of millions of pounds worth of EU subsidies each year have contributed to vast surplus stocks of mostly cheap table wine.