Zagreb - The new bill on wine, which was discussed in the parliament on Wednesday, is expected to simplify the legislative framework and facilitate access to the market for wine makers, while lawmakers warned that wine production had dropped and that more concrete measures were necessary to fight flavescence dorée, a disease of the vine.
Domestic wine production has dropped by around 40% since Croatia joined the EU, Davor Vlaović of the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) and Ivan Pernar of the Human Shield warned during the debate.
The situation in the wine sector is not satisfactory, exports amount to 5,000 tonnes and imports 26,000 tonnes, and particularly worrying is the growth of imports of bulk wine and low-quality wine, said Vlaović.
The new bill on wine is "a step forward that aims to help wine makers" but more could have been done with incentives and direct payments as well as with more administrative unburdening, said Vlaović.
Božica Makar of the Croatian People's Party (HNS) said that apart from the grey market and negative production and import trends, wine growers also had to deal with problems caused by the flavescence dorée vine disease and needed help in fighting it.
Josip Križanic of the ruling HDZ party proposed budget allocations for the purchase of insecticide to fight the disease.
Tugomir Majdak, the State Secretary at the Agriculture Ministry, said the bill aligned domestic legislation with EU law, adding that HRK 10.2 million had been set aside for its implementation.
The bill envisages decentralisation of wine quality assessment, greater supervision on the ground and a 33% cut in administrative levies.
The bill also abolishes fees for documents necessary to put wine on the market as well as registration labels currently needed to put wine on the market and introduces labeling based on four new wine-making regions - Slavonia and the Croatian Danube region, the Croatian Istria and Kvarner, Dalmatia, and the central and hilly Croatia.