Article 50 starts a two-year process, with the UK due to leave the EU in March 2019.
Comité Européen des Entreprises Vins (CEEV), which represents wine companies and 24 national organisations in the EU, says that EU wines and UK consumers have had a special relationship for centuries and that this will continue despite Brexit.
Jean Marie Barillère, President, CEEV, said, “With EU wines representing around 55% of UK wine imports, there is no doubt that the UK market is of utmost importance for EU wine producers, and that the British really appreciate European wines.”
“Ensuring smooth wine trade flows is important to both the EU and the UK economies.”
Over the next two years the UK and EU will have to agree on future treaties that will define trade rules between the two regions.
Ignacio Sánchez Recarte, Secretary General, CEEV, said: “The overall objective of the CEEV is to ensure that there will be no disruption of wine trade flows between the United-Kingdom and the EU-27.”
“To allow business and administrations to adapt to the new system of trade relations - a future EU-UK Free Trade Agreement (FTA) - it will be fundamental that leaders on both side of the channel agree on a transitional period and on a FTA in a time frame that will reduce uncertainty as much as possible.”
Meanwhile, the UK’s Wine and Spirit Trade Associataion (WSTA) is also calling for a close working relationship between the UK government and Europe, to ‘protect and strengthen Britain’s trading future’.
The WSTA – which represents more than 300 UK businesses – is pledging to ‘stand together’ with European colleagues to maintain free flows of trade.
Miles Beale, chief executive, WSTA, said: “The triggering of Article 50 signifies an historic moment as the UK begins a new journey.
“For our trade, this chapter will bring both challenges and opportunities. The WSTA will be working tirelessly to achieve our key aims: continued, tariff-free movement of wines and spirits to and from the EU, new, tariff-free trade agreements with priority countries outside the EU and equally safe passage of goods without extra checks at borders once we have left the Customs Union.
“A phased leaving process will allow time to establish an EU free trade agreement and to put in place the necessary systems and infrastructure. Failure to do so risks disruption to supply chains, chaos at UK ports, increases in costs for UK businesses and ultimately even higher prices for consumers.”
The only way for the wine industry to enjoy a smooth Brexit process is for the Government and industry to work together, Beale added.