BRUSSELS The European Union has opened a tender
to sell unwanted wine in four countries for use in making
bioethanol, its Official Journal said on Tuesday.
The tender would offer roughly 693,376 hectoliters of wine
alcohol stored in France, Greece, Italy and Spain. The deadline
for bids was September 10, it said in its latest edition.
"A tendering procedure for the sale of wine alcohol for
exclusive use as bioethanol in the fuel sector in the Community
should be organized ... with a view to reducing Community
stocks of wine alcohol and ensuring continuity of supplies," it
France, the world's largest wine producer, would offer
239,995 hectoliters of wine alcohol for distillation, while
Italy and Spain would offer 200,000 hectoliters apiece. The
balance of roughly 53,381 hectoliters will come from Greece.
France, Italy and Spain are the EU's largest winemakers by
volume and receive generous amounts of cash from Brussels to
distil some of their excess wine, both table and quality, into
industrial alcohol or biofuel.
Later this year, EU farm ministers will discuss a European
Commission proposal for a sweeping reform of EU wine policy
that would abolish "crisis distillation" -- an emergency market
tool used as a short-term measure to correct supply imbalances.
The Commission complains that the EU wine industry still
depends too much on distillation to rid itself of unwanted
"wine lakes" at the taxpayers' expense, saying a fundamental
reform is needed to make EU wines more competitive.