EU agrees ‘improved’ definitions for spirits

The European Union has finalised its new Spirit Drinks Regulation, which will include “refined and improved” definitions for spirits.

Spirits Europe has praised the EU decision’s to revise the laws that govern spirits production

The EU reached an agreement on 27 November for the new Spirit Drinks Regulation, which outlines rules for the production and labelling of spirits and for the registration and protection of spirits with geographical indications (GI).

“After so many years of discussions, it is a great relief to see the conclusion of the new regulation, as it lays down the rules for the production and labelling of all spirits sold in the EU and for the protection of those EU spirits bearing a geographical indication,” said Ulrich Adam, director general of Spirits Europe.

“The law is a central piece of legislation for the spirits sector, as it creates an effective, harmonised framework which protects consumers and producers alike.”

The Spirit Drinks Regulation contains a number of “positive and innovative elements” including new rules on the facility to translate GI terms, on the use of sweetening substances and on origin of ingredients. Spirits Europe said these new laws “will allow fake GI spirits in transit in the EU to be seized”.

Certain definitions such as for vodka or London Dry gin “have been refined and improved”.

However, Spirits Europe hit back at the EU’s decision to no longer maintain the existing flexibility to update category definitions when it is required.

A SpiritsEurope spokesperson said: “We are an innovative sector where technical adjustments (and corrections) to legal definitions are sometimes necessary. The current flexibility, introduced under the 2008 law, was one of its most helpful innovations and has been used on numerous occasions to resolve problems.”

“This is a step backwards and is likely to create difficulties in the future,” the trade body said.

“Also, some of the new rules look complex and, as they have yet to be tested in the market, it is not entirely clear how exactly they should be applied.”

Adam added: “The new legislative framework will support a sector that is among the EU’s largest and most valuable agri-food exporters and is driving the global reputation of Europe for high-quality products.”

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Author: Nicola Carruthers {authorlink}