|Vol.7, No.29, 19.7.01, p6
MEPS have called for an urgent review of EU agricultural export subsidies following the seizure in Portugal of 25 million of litres of fake wine, allegedly made without grapes.
Two of the country's Socialist members, Paulo Casaca and António Campos, claim the widespread availability of such subsidies is a magnet for organised crime.
The EU's anti-fraud office, OLAF, has investigated the seizure of the wine - believed to have been destined for the African market - and is backing a court action by the Portuguese authorities against the 'wine' manufacturers.
Casaca and Campos say it is clear that the European Commission is losing its battle to control the level of fraud which has built up around the system for subsidies paid on farm goods sold outside the EU.
They say tougher action, including changes in Union law, are now needed."We are seeing fraud all the time with these export subsidies schemes", said Casaca. "If we didn't have any of these schemes then falsification just would not be possible. It would not happen."
The seizure of the wine, said to have been made from sugar, alcohol and water, is not the first such case in Portugal. Another 50 million litres of wine, believed to be destined for Angola, was seized last year.
Casaca says Portugal is not alone in facing problems over the granting of export subsidies. Last summer Commission inspectors discovered that organised gangs in Italy had been producing adulterated butter containing chemical additives and beef by-products, normally used in cosmetics. Court action in that case is still under way. "These activities have taken on enormous proportions and have severely harmed the consumer, farmers, the community budget and the image of the EU institutions," say Casaca and Campos in a formal written question to the Commission.
MEPs have called for an urgent review of EU agricultural export subsidies following the seizure in Portugal of 25 million litres of fake wine, allegedly made without grapes.
|Business and Industry, Economic and Financial Affairs