EU and Australia sign wine trade agreement – dates set for phase out of “Australian” Champagne, Port and Sherry

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 2nd December 2008

A new agreement between the European Union and Australia has been reached to govern the wine trade between the EU and Australia.

The agreement, signed in Brussels yesterday by EU Commissioner for Agriculture Mariann Fischer Boel and Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Stephen Smith, will replace the one signed in 1994.

Commissioner Fischer Boel said the new agreement established principles for the protection of Geographical Indications and traditional expressions and protected the EU’s wine labelling regime. “The agreement achieves a balanced result for Europe and Australia and shows the good faith in which the negotiations took place,” she stated. “Crucially, we have obtained protection for our Geographical Indications and traditional expressions, which was of the utmost importance for European producers.”

Mr Smith believes the agreement is important to provide certainty about the trading environment for the European and Australian wine industries into the future. “This historic agreement demonstrates that careful negotiation can produce a win-win,” Mr Smith said. “The agreement clearly outlines the rules governing exports and imports of wine in Europe and Australia for all affected producers. For Australian producers it means simpler recognition of wine making techniques and simpler labelling requirements.”

The 1994 agreement stated that Australian producers would stop using the important EU names such as “Champagne”, “Port” and “Sherry” and eight other European geographical indications, along with some traditional expressions such as, “Amontillado”, “Claret”, and “Auslese”. The 2008 agreement sets clear dates for the phase-out of these terms.

The new agreement also outlines the conditions for Australia to continue to use a number of quality wine terms, such as “vintage”, “cream” and “tawny” to describe wines exported to Europe and sold domestically.

The European Community and Australia agreed to protect each other’s geographical indications in the agreement.