If my understanding is correct, the Commission has indicated in its guidelines to Member States that planting authorisations transferred from planting rights that have not arisen as a result of clearance of the same grower’s vineyards, may receive restructuring and conversion aid under the national wine support programme only until 15 October 2018, irrespective of whether the right and the planting authorisation transferred from it can remain valid during the period covered by the next support programme.
This has harmed many European producers — particularly in Italy, Spain, France and Hungary — who on the basis of a literal interpretation of the legislation, have bought planting rights on the assumption that, if those rights are converted into planting authorisations, they will be usable throughout their period of validity, including during the subsequent support period.
In my view, by taking the above position, the Commission has exceeded the legislative framework based on Regulation 1308/2013/EU, the delegated legislative act adopted further to it and the delegation of powers to the Commission. Article 45(3) of Regulation 1308/2013/EU does not contain any clause restricting the transitional provisions laid down in Article 68 of the regulation. No similar provision can be derived from Articles 12 and 13 of Regulation 1149/2016/EU either.
1. From what EU legislative provision can the Commission derive the restriction indicated in the guidelines with regard to transferred planting authorisations?
2. When will the Commission correct the erroneous interpretation of the law given in its guidelines?
3. What feedback has the Commission so far received from trade associations with regard to this matter?
Article 46 of Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013(1) (the common market Organisation (CMO) Regulation) provides for support for restructuring and conversion of vineyards and specifies the eligible activities, all requiring by their nature the pre-existence of a vineyard.
As of 1 January 2016, the new authorisation system replaced the planting right system and such aid can consequently only be granted to producers holding replanting authorisations or converted replanting rights generated from the grubbing up of vines in their own holding (Articles 68 and 66 of the CMO Regulation respectively).
Since 1 January 2016, other converted rights are thus to be excluded from the above Article 46 support. Nonetheless, if a wine National Support Programme allows it, such converted rights may continue being eligible until the end of the current 2014-2018programming period (i.e. until 15 October 2018). After that, they shall no longer give access to restructuring aid.
The Commission is aware of the concerns of those producers who acquired planting rights prior to 2016. However, the Commission services communicated this position to Member States since March 2015. At present, those producers have still plenty of time to use their converted rights and apply for CMO restructuring aid which can be approved until 15 October 2018, while the actual restructuring can take place within the following 3 years.
In fine, Member States may always consider providing support under their Rural Development Programmes financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, under which the financing of new plantings is allowed.
(1) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013.