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The cultivation of the vine underpins the production of wine and table grapes, both of which form a significant part of Community agricultural activity. Council Directive 68/193/EEC of 9 April 1968 on the marketing of material for the vegetative propagation of the vine introduces a uniform Community certification scheme which aims to enhance the productivity of vine cultivation in Europe and thus ensure an adequate supply of high quality vines for the production of grapes. The vine varieties must first be deemed to be of suitable distinctness, uniformity and stability to be entered into the catalogues of varieties officially accepted for certification and marketing within the territory of each Member State. On the basis of the notifications from the Member States, the Commission shall publish a common catalogue of varieties of vine propagation material. Vine propagation material must be officially examined and certified as either "basic material", "certified material" or "standard material" before it can be marketed, although the latter category is being phased out. Material from all categories must however satisfy the conditions laid down in Annexes I and II of the Directive in order to be certified.

These annexes specify the varietal identity, varietal purity and health (especially regarding the presence of harmful viral diseases) criteria that needs to be met by the crop and the varietal identity, technical purity, health (specifically the presence of harmful organisms), grading and quality criteria that must be met by the propagation material produced from the crop. In order to ensure the identity of the propagation material when being marketed, the Directive also lays down rules for the separation of batches, packaging, sealing and marking and specifies the information that must be present on the label.

Vine propagation material coming from countries outside the Community may only be marketed within the Community if it provides the same assurances as Community material.

There have been several amendments to Council Directive 68/193/EEC. An important amendment was made through Council Directive 2002/11/EC of 14 February 2002, which removes the possibility of unilateral derogations previously available to Member States and updates Directive 68/193/EEC in order to take account of advances in the methods used to produce vine varieties and propagating material. The most recent amendment is Commision Directive 2005/43/EC, which updates the Annexes to Directive 68/193/EC. Where appropriate, the Commission is assisted by Member States in adopting measures related to Council Directive 68/193/EEC through the Standing Committee on Seeds and Propagating Material for Agriculture, Horticulture and Forestry.

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