EU opens tender to distill wine lakes into biofuel

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union has opened a tender to sell unwanted wine lakes in four countries for use in making bioethanol, its Official Journal said yesterday. The tender would offer roughly 693,375 hectoliters of wine alcohol stored in Greece, France, Italy and Spain. The deadline for bids was July 5, 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 said. France, Italy and Spain are the EU’s largest winemakers by volume and receive generous amounts of cash from Brussels to distill some of their excess wine, both table and quality, into industrial alcohol or biofuel. EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel has presented four broad policy options for overhauling EU wine policy, with a formal reform proposal to be published on July 4. She has said publicly that she favors abolishing the existing system of «crisis distillation,» an emergency market tool used as a short-term measure to correct supply imbalances. Fischer Boel has repeatedly complained 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.

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