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«The London School of Economics and Political Science Wine In Their Veins: France and the European Community’s Common Wine Policy, 1967-1980 Maria ...»

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The London School of Economics and Political


Wine In Their Veins: France and the European Community’s

Common Wine Policy, 1967-1980

Maria X. Chen

A thesis submitted to the Department of International

History of the London School of Economics for the degree

of Doctor of Philosophy, London, December 2013.


I certify that the thesis I have presented for examination for the MPhil/PhD

degree of the London School of Economics and Political Science is solely my

own work other than where I have clearly indicated that it is the work of others (in which case the extent of any work carried out jointly by me and any other person is clearly identified in it).

The copyright of this thesis rests with the author. Quotation from it is permitted, provided that full acknowledgement is made. This thesis may not be reproduced without my prior written consent.

I warrant that this authorisation does not, to the best of my belief, infringe the rights of any third party.

I declare that my thesis consists of 76,417 words.

ii Abstract This thesis analyses the impact that the European Community had on table wine growers in the Midi region of France in the 1970s.

This work is divided into the following parts: the negotiations leading to the creation of the Common Wine Policy (CWP) in 1970, its operation in the early 1970s until its first major crisis in 1975-1976, its drastic transformation from liberal policy to one of restrictive control in the late 1970s, the reaction of table wine producers in Languedoc-Roussillon to these changes over the decade, and the change in political relationships and governance at three levels

- Brussels, Paris, and Languedoc-Roussillon - as a result of this process.

It argues that the first decade of the CWP changed relationships between

different groups at the European, national, and local level in two major ways:

first, national French government institutions voluntarily decreased their power over a key national industry – this was the most marked feature in the French wine industry of this time period. Second, the CWP helped facilitate the rise of sub-national and non-state actors in policy circles from which they were previously excluded. Empowered by the new responsibilities given to them by the French government, particularly via a newly-created national office of wine, French vignerons began attempting to bypass the national French bottleneck to the Community and directly lobby European-level institutions, either via their own organisations or as part of transnational endeavours. Given the French government’s particularly adamant control of who represented the country at the Brussels levels in the 1960s, this change in only a decade was a significant shift. In analysing this process, this thesis also makes broader comments on the integration process as a whole, adding particularly to the literature on the Community’s agricultural integration, and is the first comprehensive review of the history of the Common Wine Policy, and the first to make an extensive assessment of the impact on local farmers in the Midi during this time in relation to the European Community’s policies.

–  –  –

If I were to thank everyone who has supported me during this doctorate and contributed to this work, these acknowledgements would run on for many pages. There are a large number of people who have been helpful to me and my thesis during the course of my research, and I hope they will forgive me for not naming them all here. I am indeed grateful for each person with whom I have discussed and shared my work.

There are some people I must thank for their support and help during the course of this thesis:

My deep thanks to my supervisor, Piers Ludlow, who has been patient, insightful, and steadfastly encouraging through the whole process of the doctorate. My advisor Heather Jones has been an excellent confidante and has often shared her academic wisdom with me.

At the London School of Economics and Political Science, Daniel Strieff, Aurelie Basha i Novosejt, Marie Julie Chenard, and Paul Horsler have all been important to me in my time there.

My work has entailed a lot of travel, and with this, thanks that likewise travel far and wide.

In London, John-Paul Muir, Shahrokh Razmjou, Erik Chavez, Tom Bartlett, and Nicholas Tam were, in diverse ways, my work’s champions.

Across Canada, Tara Faria, David Marples, Rebecca Fletcher, Brendan Brown, Matthew Weigel, Jim Barnes, Kate Lowndes, and P.E.O. Chapter H have been unceasingly supportive.

During my research in Paris, the Chavez family has been a fount of kindness, generosity, and hospitality.

The kind and cheerful staff at The Burn Manor in Scotland were excellent company during an extended writing sojourn.

Of the many conversations I have had about my work, the ones with Katja Siedel and Marion Demossier stand out as important ones that set me on the course of my research.

My entire extended Van Leeuwen family in Mariekerke, Belgium have given me their full and utmost love and care.

The staff members at the Archives Patrimoine in the Médiathèque Emile-Zola in Montpellier were truly supportive of my work and went the distance to make sure I had the documents I needed.

v This work could not have been undertaken without the funding with which I was so generously provided and my thanks go out to the many organisations that aided me. During the course of this research, I received funding and support from a variety of sources, including the LSE International History Department Fellowship Scheme, the Mackenzie King Scholarship Foundation, the Government of Alberta through the Sir James Lougheed Award of Distinction, the London Goodenough Association of Canada, the Historical Archives of the European Union in Florence through the Sörensen Grant, and PEO Chapter H.

Finally, my deepest and most heartfelt thanks go to my mother Jennie Shao, my father Siguo Chen, and my brother Darian Chen for their continued, unwavering support of me during my many years abroad for the doctorate. I dedicate this thesis to my young brother, the absence of whose company was the greatest sacrifice of my undertaking this work. He may rest assured, however, that this need not compel him to read it – until he is of legal drinking age.

–  –  –

CAP – Common Agricultural Policy COGECA – General Committee for Agricultural Cooperation in the European Union (now the General Confederation of Agricultural Cooperatives in the European Union) COPA – Comité des Organisations Professionanelles Agricoles (Committee of Agricultural Organizations) CSA – Comité Spécial de l'Agriculture CWP – Common Wine Policy DG – directorate-general (under the European Commission) DG VI – Directorate-General of Agriculture EC – European Community ECU – European Currency Unit EEC – European Economic Community FAO – Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FNSEA – Fédération National des Syndicats des Exploitants Agricoles (National Federations of Farmers' Union, France) FVTP – Fédération Nationale des Producteurs des Vins de Table et de Vins de Pays (It should be noted that this Fédération in French documents has also variously been given the shorthand FNPVTP.) GATT – General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade MCA – monetary compensatory amount ONIVIT – Office National Interprofessionnel des Vins de Table SCGI – Sécretariat général du Comité interministeriel pour les questions de coopération économique européenne

–  –  –

I have always been fascinated by European integration and curious about its effects on the day-to-day lives of individuals, as well as its effects on individual perceptions of self. Before I began the process of researching for my doctoral thesis, I was interested in the historical evolution of the European Union's policies on geographical indications. In preparation, I searched back through the short history of the official regime on geographical indications and it led me quickly to the regime that was its basis – the appellation d'origine system in France on wines.

Armed with curiosity about the this system and the resultant Community wine policy, as well as the desire to know how affected individuals had reacted, I searched through over fifteen archives and specialised libraries in four countries, allowing the documents to guide me and continuing to ‘press until it hurt’. This proved useful in sharpening the focus of my question, which had been, ‘What effect did the European Community have on wine producers in France?’ During one of my early archival visits, I went to the the departmental archives of Gironde, in which the wine-growing area of Bordeaux is located. I uncovered plenty of material on wine there, as one would expect, but very little of it pertained to or mentioned the European Community. My initial confusion gave way to the understanding that the European Community's effects on viticulture was highly uneven throughout France, as was the case with many of the Community's other policies. But this phenomenon was more unique in wine than it was in other agricultural policies for products that were, particularly when finally delivered to the consumer, more uniform, such as the other major common markets of milk, butter, or wheat.

Wine is highly variegated and differentiated throughout Europe, and without a doubt throughout French regions. Bordeaux and similarly, most other quality-wine growing regions, had little contact with or need for the European Community's new policy, as it was aimed mostly at helping poorer farmers, who in the wine world were those who largely produced table wine. Where the European Community had the most direct effect on French vignerons was in the region of Languedoc-Roussillon – roughly synonymous with the Midi when referring to viticulture – and it was there that I could best study the changing relationships between centres and periphery – I say ‘centres’ because of course this also necessitated a study of the role of the national French government. The largest table wine producing region not only in France but in Europe was the Midi. So it was that the question became, ‘What effect did the European Community have on the table wine producers in the Midi in France?’ The Common Wine Policy has had no comprehensive historical examination before my research, and the documents pertaining to its policy evolution in Brussels show intense and lengthy negotiations, often technocratic and busily bureaucratic. But the voice of vignerons was rarely heard. There would have been enough at the Community level for a thesis, but I was not satisfied. In so many seminal works on European policy, it seems the voice of affected citizenry is drowned out, and I was determined to include them. The difficulty in so doing was that farmers do not leave archives. A conscientious farmer might keep meticulous administrative records, but this would not tell us what they thought or felt. Letters from Midi farmers to the Ministry of Agriculture which were conserved and a powerful newspaper source, the daily La Journée Vinicole, together with the memoirs of a vigneron who wrote directly about the European dimension, with which he engaged directly as a Member of the European Parliament, allowed me to create space for the opinions and reactions of those for whom this architectural structure of the broad-reaching and intensive wine policy was created.

My topic has lent itself to all manner of comments throughout my years of research. In social settings, it most usually prompted people to either begin discussing their favourite wines or to smile wryly and in an envious tone ask if I tasted plenty of wine for my research (one can dream I suppose); I've had many interesting conversations as a result, if not always about the substantive part of my research. But while people may have felt more inclined to engage me in light-hearted conversation than the average PhD student upon hearing about the topic of my doctoral research, the topic of wine in France is no joking matter to the French. Part of the precipitation of the 1789 revolution involved anger about the privatisation of agricultural land, including viticultural ones. With the threat of German invasion, French vignerons put themselves in great danger to protect their wines and crops. In 1984, a violent and militant viticultural organisation from the Midi burned down a shopping centre in Carcassonne to protest lack of sufficient action for their ailing table wine sector. Whenever I have discussed my topic with those from France, the reaction is markedly different to those coming from other countries. These conversations are marked by seriousness and concern about the subject of my research, and a universal agreement about its importance, and, if not agreement on their views of Languedocien wines, a general belief that these wines are improving where once they were not particularly good, or as some had quietly insisted, barely drinkable.

A kind French professor on a train back to Paris from the National French Archives in Fontainebleau discussed French wine and politics with me in the early stages of my research.

He insisted that ultimately, viticultural attitudes and behaviours were explained by economics; the effect of the European Community's wine policy on French wine growers was simply economic. I resisted him on this point, aware of French wine historian Leo Loubère's reminder that we should not wax too romantic about wine growers who on a day-to-day basis make wine for the basic purpose of selling it. This is true, but I instinctively did not believe economics could explain the entirety of this situation. In the 1970s, in the midst of global economic turmoil and with financial government incentives to leave certain agricultural sectors, it would have made sense for the table wine producers to abandon their farms in the Midi and either retire early or move to urban centres and seek new professions; those who did not wish to leave farming even had the viable option of changing over their vineyards – with government support – to grow other crops. Given the hardship and difficulty they faced at a time when their overproduction of wine coincided with a permanent shift away from table wine drinking culture, economics would have dictated that the Midi table wine industry shrink or even collapse.

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