New spirit drinks regulation; now in the final phases - and still scope for improvement

The discussions on a new regulation have been a preoccupation for many officials and traders for a long time: interesting though they certainly have been, the start of the final phase - trilogues - is very welcome and provides the last opportunity to secure improvements on this very important and technically nuanced new law.  

While in many respects the proposal is a substantial recast of the current rules, it contains important new elements as regards, among others, rules for the registration of geographical indication (GI) spirits, labelling and the protection of category names.   It also sets down a number of innovations which the industry has not requested: new rules, for example, which are intended to undermine the nutrition and health claims regulation; rules on GIs and trademarks which will remove protection for some of the EU’s best known GI spirits; abolition of the current facility to amend category definitions when required; the latter ensures the law does not become obsolete. 

In one area the proposal also maintains the existing definition of ethyl alcohol (from 1989) which is long past its sell-by date but which needs a more dedicated focus to find wording which reflects progress in analytical techniques and industry practice.  

So we will look forward to continuing discussions with all parties as the trilogues progress.  The draft has come a long way with numerous and very welcome improvements introduced.  We hope that the remaining concerns can be addressed in the months ahead.