EU lawmakers criticize EU-US wine trade deal

European Union lawmakers on Tuesday slammed a provisional EU-U.S. deal on the trans-Atlantic wine trade, claiming it was a cave-in to American interests and threatened the essence of European culture.

At a debate on the deal at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, the European People's Party, the assembly's largest group, condemned the interim agreement as unacceptable and said the import conditions for U.S. wine were far too lenient. Several lawmakers joined the EPP in calling for tougher action against the imports.

The deal still has to be approved by the 25 EU member states.

Under the provisional deal reached by EU and American negotiators in Washington two weeks ago, the two sides will mutually recognize each other's winemaking practices, setting the stage for more detailed talks on protecting geographical indications, names of origin and the status of low alcohol wines.

The U.S. administration is to ask Congress to change the status, and limit the use of, 17 European names on American wines.

The names Burgundy, Chablis, Champagne, Chianti, Claret, Haut-Sauterne, Hock, Madeira, Malaga, Marsala, Moselle, Port, Retsina, Rhine, Sauterne, Sherry and Tokay, are considered "semi-generic" in the United States. Once Washington has changed their status, American exporters will benefit from simplified certification of their wines in the EU.

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