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EU and UK wines and spirits chiefs launch joint Brexit proposition paper

Published:  19 October, 2017

European and UK bodies responsible for the wider wine and spirit industry have joined together to publish a joint position paper to outline their stance on Brexit.

Ahead of Brexit crunch talks taking place at the European Council HQ in Brussels today, the Wine and Spirits Trade Association (WSTA) and the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), along with partners in Europe sent a joint position paper to the Brexit negotiators raising priority issues around minimising the disruption of trade flows and stressing the need for a transitional period.

WSTA Miles Beale said there had been “little sign of any progress being made” on the future trade relationship between the UK and the EU, and so the decision was taken to publish a joint position paper with the aim of protecting flow of the wine and spirits trade across the Channel.

In partnership with spiritsEUROPE and the Comité Européen des Entreprises Vins (CEEV), the joint paper sets out the European wine and spirits “industry’s shared Brexit requests” and looks at how to overcome issues affecting the industry.

This includes managing any changes in the free movement of goods, people and capital within the EU, which currently ensure the smooth transition of goods across the continent.

The paper also urges the EU and UK to reach a settlement that avoids border tariffs and related administration costs.

“We have detailed in our joint position paper the key areas on which we want the Brexit negotiators to focus,” said Karen Betts, chief executive of the SWA.

“Priorities for us are early agreement on transition in order to guarantee the maintenance of the EU rules relevant to wine and spirits while a longer term agreement is struck between the EU and UK on our future trading relationship, and the continued application of existing EU FTAs.”

Historical trade routes link drinks partners in the EU and UK, with €2.3bn of UK wine and spirits products going to the EU27 every year, and €2.9bn of European wine and spirits travelling the other way.

At the summit taking place in Brussels today, EU member states will decide whether the UK has made "sufficient progress" to move to trade talks, which the EU says can only take place after "separation issues" like the divorce bill, citizens' rights, and the Northern Ireland border are settled.

Jean-Marie Barrière, President of CEE, echoed the sentiments of Betts and Beale.

“We produce high-quality products – including PDO/PDI wines and GI spirit drinks – that support hundreds of thousands of jobs, investment, and significant bilateral trade between the EU27 and the UK,” he said.