EU cellars stocked 40,000 bottles of wine for bureaucrats: ‘They should be working!’

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The price of wine could rise from July as wine imports from the EU will be subjected to additional post-Brexit checks. Exporters from the EU sending produce to Britain will have to fill out a VI-1 form, which will include detailed questions such as how strong the wine is, what grape it is made from and how many containers it is being sent to. It will also require customs officials to stamp it before goods will be allowed to move.

Wine importer and wholesaler Daniel Lambert told BBC Newsnight he is worried EU exporters could go elsewhere because of the checks required when shipping to the UK.

He said: “We are already finding since Brexit that very few producers actually know what it is they need to do.

“That’s the fundamental problem.”

He added: “If you give them a problem they are less inclined to want to export to that particular market.”

He highlighted that as there “isn’t a shortage of wine” they have got plenty of places to choose where they can sell and the UK won’t be the first destination market.”

Under the new requirements, each different type of wine in a consignment must have its own form listing all details of its contents.

But he said this could be a mistake as “the UK is an international hub” for wine.

As the fears of wine lovers in Britain mount, a 2012 report by CNBC has resurfaced, which reveals the shocking amount of wine bottles stored in the cellars of the European Commission and the European Council and how much they are worth.

Martin Ehrenhauser, a former Austrian member of the European Parliament, tabled a question regarding how many bottles were stored.

The answer, which reportedly took four months to deliver, revealed a total of 42,789 bottles of red, white and sparkling wines, plus nearly 2,000 more of spirits.

Mr Ehrenhauser, an independent member of the European Parliament who described himself as a “friend of Commons Europe” but a foe of its current spendthrift, said: “I was shocked.

“I had not expected that they would have so many bottles.

“They should be working, not drinking.”

The overall Brussels booze bill was budgeted at only around £42,000 for 2012, and was a small portion of that year’s total spending of about £130billion, most of which went towards subsidies for farmers and development grants for poorer regions.

The wines purchased were not vintage either, as according to the report, the most expensive bottle in the EU Commission’s cellar cost a little over £46.

In 2017, Conservative MP Sir Edward Leigh claimed Britain should have secured a fair share of the EU’s thousands of bottles of wine and fine art collection during the Brexit negotiations.

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He urged ministers to “promise to take back control of our fair share of this art and wine”.

British negotiators were expected to demand around 5,000 bottles of wine, 250 bottles of spirits, and £2million worth of artwork.

Speaking in the Commons, the veteran MP said the alcohol and art should have not been left for Jean-Claude Jucker, the former European Commission President, to “enjoy”.

He told MPs: “The EU is estimated to have a wine cellar of over 42,000 bottles and artwork worth more than £13million, some might say metaphorically looted from the capitals of Europe.

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“After we leave the party, will the minister promise to take back control of our fair share of this art and wine and not leave it for Mr Juncker to enjoy?”

Robin Walker, the former Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union and now Minister of State for Northern Ireland, said it was an “interesting question”.

He replied: “The Honourable Gentleman raises a very interesting question.

“The legal basis of those legal assets and liabilities has been analysed in detail and accounted for in the overall settlement.

“The scope of the settlement is laid out in the joint report.”

It is not clear whether Britain demanded its share of “art and wine” back from the EU – but it does not appear to have received anything from Brussels.

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