spiritsNEWS April 2022

Suppporting jobs, growth, competitiveness & exports in a changing geopolitical context: the role of the EU’s Promotional Policy

As every year, also in 2022 the European Commission is reviewing its annual work program for 2023. The European Commission’s DG AGRI has been collecting stakeholder input until the end of March. spiritsEUROPE fully supports the general objective of the EU promotion policy, which is “to enhance the competitiveness of the Union agricultural sector” according to Regulation (EU) No 1144/2014, the legal framework of the current promotion policy. It is an instrument that needs to reflect market realities and support growth prospects. The Promotion Policy must also enhance the contribution of the agri-food sector to more Sustainable Food Systems and support producers’ efforts at a very crucial time of the transition. This is only possible if Promotion Policy remains inclusive and supports this transition for all sectors.

In 2019, a total of 1.2 million jobs in Europe could be attributed to the production and salse of spirits drinks. A significant part of this growth and the accompanying economic benefits for the EU are generated thanks to both intra-EU & mainly extra-EU exports, which the EU Promotion Policy can usefully support. Our sector also contributes to rural development, through the more than 240 Geographical Indications (GIs) registered for spirits . These GIs are not only a great symbol of European traditions and know-how: they are also the guarantee of continuous jobs and growth creation in a wide range of European regions, particularly in oftentimes economically disadvantaged rural areas. Geographical indications have a significant role to play in driving the trade performance of our products: 2/3 of EU spirits exports are protected by a geographical indication. Thus, continuing to promote these GIs in the EU & abroad does not only open new opportunities for EU companies large and small but supports the wider objectives of job creation and rural development.

2022 was supposed to be the year of economic recovery for EU spirits, with a foreseen increase of our intra-EU & extra-EU exports as a result of the progressive reopening of international borders and travel and a return to pre-COVID situations in many countries, not least in Europe. Building on the positive premiumisation trend seen in many regions of the world, EU spirits exports still have substantial growth potential – exemplified by the fact that imported spirits still represent a very small percentage of overall spirits consumption in emerging markets, even when our own export performance is very positive. For instance, in China, our second biggest export market, imported spirits only represent 0.9% of overall spirits consumption. EU spirits can only realise their full potential in these markets with further promotional efforts, coupled with EU efforts to remove market access barriers, which can take the form of high tariffs, high & often discriminatory taxes, import restrictions, weak IP protection or enforcement, or complex and burdensome regulations.

The Annual Work Programme 2023 must be defined in a way that allows all eligible products to equally apply and qualify for promotion funding. Earmarking specific sectors or products should be avoided and our products should neither be excluded nor discriminated against. This is especially critical in light of the significant challenges that we face, both in our exports market (due to COVID, the crisis in Ukraine & rising transport prices), in the EU (with rising energy & commodity prices and inflation) and in terms of transition to sustainable food systems.

Particular attention should be given to the support & promotion of GIs, which are not only symbols of the rich EU culinary heritage and traditions, but an engine of rural development.  

In 2023, the focus should be on activities aimed at promoting the recognition and understanding of EU quality schemes, not least spirits GIs, and on supporting companies both in terms of mitigation of market losses / reaching new markets and green & sustainability transition.

We would like to see the following non-exhaustive list of activities supported:

  • High-level missions, similar to the one planned in Vietnam and Singapore in July 2022,
  • Communication campaigns, focused on the promotion of EU GIs (in our case, spirits GIs), with support for public relations activities, online & physical communication, or activities on points of sales including bars and restaurants.
  • Participation in & promotion of GIs / products at relevant fairs, including under an EU pavilion.
  • Study visits to the EU & to priority third countries.
  • Seminars, training & other activities aimed at raising awareness of EU GIs, EU quality standards and the diversity & richness of EU products – such as EU export promotion seminars in key & promising markets.
  • Awareness raising & training activities in relation to the dangers and detection of illicit products, including imitations and counterfeit.
  • Business-to-business activities, including activities aimed at promoting EU standards & regulatory cooperation.

The focus should be on high potential markets for specific categories of products, in our case, spirits GIs.

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