UK wine and spirits companies back EU membership

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

The UK will hold a referendum on EU membership in June this year. Pic: iStock
The UK will hold a referendum on EU membership in June this year. Pic: iStock

Related tags International trade European union United kingdom Uk

The UK’s Prime Minister says that jobs and investment in the wine and spirits industry could be at risk if the UK leaves the EU. Meanwhile, the Wine and Spirits Trade Association has announced that 90% of its members want to stay in the EU. 

The industry made £1.8bn ($2.54bn) in EU exports last year, while also benefiting from arrangements between the EU and other countries.

Deals would have to be renegotiated if the UK leaves the EU, claims Prime Minister David Cameron.

The Wine and Spirits Trade Association (WSTA) polled its members and found that 90% of respondents want to say in the EU.   

Miles Beale, WSTA chief executive, said the ‘vast majority’ of the body’s membership believes the industry will be in a better position to invest, grow and create jobs if the UK remains in the single market.

He added that the industry needs a strong UK voice within the EU to ensure it has a say in shaping regulations, and access to consumers across Europe.

It is clear the UK spirit sector’s strong exports performance and our place at the center of the international wine industry are hugely positive for the UK and its consumers,” ​he said. 

“There is real concern this would be put at risk as a result of the UK exiting the EU.”

On Thursday 23 June the UK will vote on whether it should remain in the European Union. The Prime Minister is one of those campaigning for Britain to stay in the EU, having agreed a set of changes to the UK’s membership.

WSTA tweet

Diageo and Chivas Brothers were among the signatories of an open letter published in The Times​ last month, which backed Britain’s continued membership in the EU. 


Gin, Scotch whisky and sparkling wine are some of the key sectors for the UK alcoholic beverage industry. The government has pledged a tenfold increase in wine exports by 2020,​ while also growing exports of gin.

In 2015 the wine and spirit industry made £1.8bn in EU exports, says the government. It also benefits from the 35 free trade deals the EU has made with more than 50 countries. The EU is also in talks with the US, India and China, with the potential to open up ‘huge new growth potentials for the British alcohol industry,’ ​claims Downing Street.

The Prime Minister said the status of free trade treaties could be uncertain if the UK left the EU.

“Those who want to leave Europe can’t tell you if British businesses would be able to access Europe’s free trade area,”​ he said.

The £45bn wine and spirits industry supports nearly 600,000 jobs, which will be safer if Britain stays in the EU, he added.   

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