As anyone interested in global politics or trade would know, the United Kingdom (UK) is planning to withdraw from the European Union (EU) on 29 March this year.
At the time of writing, much doubt remains over the conditions under which this withdrawal will occur and the length of any transition period towards a new trading relationship between the UK and the EU.
What is expected to change for Australian wine?
The most likely scenario facing Australian wine exports after this date is that not much will change in practice. The UK is expected to apply the same tariff to imported Australian wine as it did while a member of the EU, and the labelling and wine production rules will remain unchanged.
One thing, however, will change.
Article 59 of European Commission (EC) regulation 479/2008 requires the label of an imported wine to indicate the name and address of the importer and article 56 of EC regulation 607/2009 defines the importer to be a person ‘established within the EU’. After 29 March, no person based in the UK will meet this definition of an importer. A wine sold in any of the 27 EU member states other than the UK will therefore need to indicate the details of an importer established in one of those 27 remaining countries. Currently, the indication on the label of a UK-based importer is acceptable in any of the 28 EU member states.
If a consignment of wine is destined to be split so that one portion is sold in the UK and the rest in the EU then one efficient solution may be to indicate both a UK and an EU importer on the one, common label.
Advice from UK government technical note
We have, however, been advised in the past by the EC that only one importer can appear on the label.
Nevertheless, the UK government has recently produced the following technical note which suggests that indicating both a UK and an EU importer on the label may be acceptable post-29 March.
An EU address alone would no longer be valid for the UK market. Similarly, a UK address alone would no longer be valid for the EU market and an address within the remaining EU member states will be required following EU exit. A UK address together with an EU address on the label would mean that the label is valid for both the UK and EU markets.
We will provide further clarity in the coming months as we learn more about the implications of ‘Brexit’.