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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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Other national offices were created, but the national office for wine was the earliest (save for the one for livestock and meat, for which ONIBEV was created two years before in 1974, and whose mandate – overseeing general production and guiding changes in technology – was more limited than ONIVIT’s.) Even the one for milk, ONILAIT, was not created until almost a decade after the one for wine, despite the fact that they faced similar issues of overproduction. The government also strengthened local and regional power by law, through initiatives designed to encourage the development and proliferation of groups at that level. A notable law was Loi n°75-600 relative à l'organisation interprofessionnelle agricole, which codified on July 10, 1975 recognition by the state for those groups composed of the most representative organisations of agricultural production – and where appropriate, also for processing and marketing – into interbranch organisations.24 The initial law was principally created to recognise these as lawful entities, but later on these recognised units could also apply for priority funding from the government. Another such group was the ‘groupement de producteurs’ (now known by the name ‘organisation de producteurs’). They were created for the purpose of encouraging farmers producing a common product to group together and create a host structure, preferably setting official quotas and targets for the group. If groups demonstrated a strong and cohesive organisational structure, the government would recognise them as legal groupements de producteurs and they would be prioritised when it came to the distribution of aid.

Act No. 75-600 of 10 July 1975 on agricultural trade organization.

While general legislation for a framework for groupements de producteurs was created for agricultural sectors across the board in 1962 in France, in some sectors, the groupements de producteurs were actually based on aspects of Community legislation, which is to say specific provisions in their common market organisation under the CAP provided for them. This was the case for fruits and vegetables, tobacco, and wine – so it was that groupements de producteurs had little relevance for wine producers until the creation of the CWP. These kinds of organisational groups were purposefully created as ‘it was so much more convenient for government economic ministries to aggregate their interventionist activities, dealing with trade associations and peak organizations’.25 This movement towards de-politicising wine policy and promoting a technical role for government was part of a broader movement under Giscard d’Estaing to introduce small changes that included consulting with local government more often without heading in the direction of earnest decentralisation.26 Despite having a reputation for favouring decentralisation and being seen as someone who might usher in such change upon election in 1974, during a meeting with regional representatives in 1975 in Dijon, for example, Giscard d’Estaing informed them that the role of the region was not to manage itself but rather to help coordinate the overall economic development of the country.27 Administrators were more emphasised than before, such as through the increase in status for prefects, who oversaw the local and regional representatives of the national ministries. By subordinating political and moral imperatives to ones that were technically-understood and justified, the government could move governmental decisions and state institutions from being politically-oriented to Hayward, Industrial Entreprise and European Integration: From National to International Champions in Western Europe, 1.

This is well documented in Michael Keating and Paul Hainsworth, Decentralisation and Change in Contemporary France (Aldershot: Gower, 1986).

Ibid., 29.

being technically-oriented. (Indeed, the Parti Socialiste in the 1981 election had criticised the atmosphere under Giscard for being overly technocratic.) This shift was clear in the policies on wine in the 1970s, and went hand-in-hand with an increasing emphasis on a particular kind of technocratic bent28, which found expression in the growing ‘sciencificiation’ of the wine industry. A technocratic environment coupled with serious pressure from the European Community via Mansholt in the 1960s to modernise agriculture, particularly small, inefficient family farms led to an increase in technical programmes in France which churned out an academic bureaucracy to complement the ministerial bureaucracy of the wine regulations in France. This was reflected in the rising number of and members in specialist schools and institutions in this period like the l’Etablissement National Technique pour l’Amélioration de la Viticulture (ENTAV), l’Institute Technique du Vin (ITV), and the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA). These institutions naturally complemented the general government push towards improving quality in wine. The rise in specialised language to discuss what heretofore had been an everyman’s drink in France was picked up by some vignerons, if rather awkwardly.

For example, a columnist for La Journée Vinicole decided that romanticism was not the appropriate way to counter the complaints of detractors of wine at the time, some of whom were saying that wine was an evil associated with drugs and alcoholism. In his article29, the columnist then decided instead to ‘examiner [la] composition chimique [de la vin]’ to respond to their concerns: wine has ‘des prioriétés biologiques’ and is ‘un liquid complexe formé d’eau: 800 à 950 grammes et contenant un dissolution ou en suspension un grand nombre de substances minerals organiques ou mixtes’; he described in depth constituent parts, like ‘les aldéhydes (acétiques, viniques, éthyliques), les acides (‘de deux sortes : ‘les Cleary, Peasants, Politicians and Producers, 18.





La Journée Vinicole, January 26, 1979.

acides volatiles et les acides fixes’). This limp defence, with hardly any elaboration as to how it actually addressed the concerns of those believing wine drinking to be increasingly a social ill, was a reflection of the need to talk the new language of technocracy in wine.

II. The Creation of a National Office of Wine The Common Wine Policy enabled the rise of French sub-national and non-state actors in policy circles from which they were previously excluded. The crisis of the Franco-Italian Wine War abated only when the negotiations at the European Community resulted in a revised Common Wine Policy which was decidedly more stringent, with required uprooting, restrictions on grape varietal planting, retirement bonuses, and aid for both converting and structuring vineyards. The French government largely pushed through these negotiations at the European Community level, and continued its process of handing over responsibility for the wine policy to other parties. In the late 1960s, this had been to the European Community, but from the point of the initiation of the Common Wine Policy onward, it was also a devolution of power downward. The French government began including French nongovernmental groups, particularly local and regional groups. After initial angry, defiant, and even violent reactions and appeals to the national government which provided unsatisfactory outcomes, a new and unique kind of body in viti-vinicultural regulation was created. This was the national para-public body ONIVIT for the table wine industry, complete with government funding, which largely took over implementation of the wine policy regulations from Brussels. This process legitimised the involvement of French non-governmental, unelected stakeholders in the wine policy process.

The creation of ONIVIT, a new national body of wine, included a few key characteristics.

First, it ostensibly devolved power from the national government to a public institution.

Second, the office was responsible for the implementation of European Community regulations, previously the job of the Ministry of Agriculture and its Chambers of Agriculture. Third, the office was run by the different producer and merchant groups the government had invited, who were previously divided in the Midi. While civil servants from the Ministry of Agriculture were involved in the running of ONIVIT as well, as it was formally under the auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Finance, it was dominated by those in the Languedoc-Roussillon. This is particularly clear when looking at its Languedocien leaders in the 1970s – from 1976–1983, Jean-François Breton was president, and from 1976–1980 Pierre Murret-Labarthe was director. ONIVIT was both a more direct line to Brussels – as they were responsible for implementing Community policy in France – and a more direct line to Paris – as ONIVIT brought them into regular contact with government officials from two important ministries. As such, Languedociens were anxious to use and influence this body. As a journalist for La Journée Vinicole wrote, during

a time of frustration with the pace of change, despite the creation of ONIVIT:

La grande difficulté de l’organisation du marché des vins, c’est qu’il n’existe pas d’homogénéité de la profession. Son aspect diffère en fonction des catégories de vins élaborés, de la structure de la région. Il est soumis aux aléas du temps et de l’économie en général. Les frais varient très sensiblement suivant l’important de l’exploitation et le volume, suivant l’éloignement et la dissémination des propriétés. Là-dessus se greffe un autre problème, c’est la disproportion entre la régression de la consommation et la profession de la production, disproportion qui tend à s’accentuer et à accentuer ainsi le déséquilibre du marché des vins de table. D’où la nécessité d’une politique à la base et cela regarde l’ONIVIT. Il faut résorber les excédents et rétablir l’équilibre. C’est la seule chance de survie d’une réelle interprofession.30 Under the auspices of a kind of early test case for decentralisation, this prototype allowed the French national government to step out of the line of some of the fire, whilst waving the La Journée Vinicole, November 4, 1976.

banner of decentralisation and the attendant imagery and language of empowering local and regional entities and engaging them in the policy-making process. Pierre Muller argues that the basic model of France government was the centrality of the state in decision-making, specific forms of interest representation, and a privileged space for the state in the implementation of public policies at the local level.31 Muller states this basic model was unchallenged until the 1980s; Robert Ladrech agrees, citing 1988 as a particular turning point.32 However, it is clear that the wine industry began challenging this model in the 1970s.

This might have been because the methods pursued by the European Community to combat overproduction were not new and older vignerons recalled earlier attempts to curb production. In fact the methods the Community used, which were pushed by the French delegation, were previously attempted by the French themselves in the 1950s. The French government offered compulsory distillation to many small-time growers in the early 1950s, during which time indemnities were also promised to them, in exchange for uprooting vines for other crops. The policy also restricted the right to plant new vines. The uprooting programme was suspended in 1957 after it seemed to help achieve low yield. However, this low yield was only seen in the previous two years harvests – but the programme was so unpopular, the government hastily cancelled it. In 1962, there was again a large surplus and this convinced some vignerons that ‘a reduction in acreage was not enough to solve the chronic wine problem’.33 However, the French government quietly disagreed – they believed it was effective and fought instead to have the policy remade in Brussels.

Pierre Muller, 'Entre le local et l'Europe. La crise du modèle français de politiques publiques,' Revue française de science politique 42, no. 2 (1992).

Robert Ladrech, 'Europeanization of Domestic Politics in France,' Journal of Common Market Studies 32, no.

1 (1994).

Gordon Wright, Rural Revolution in France: The Peasantry in the Twentieth Century (Redwood City:

Stanford University Press, 1964), 237.

Consequences of the Decreased Role in the Ministry of Agriculture Two consequences of this decrease in the role of the Ministry of Agriculture were, first, the legitimisation of non-elected, non-governmental representatives to make political decisions;

the proliferation of specialist groups which gain new quasi-political powers was a new feature resulting from this decade. The second consequence was the rise in legitimacy based on territory and identity, with claims relating to social justice rather than claims based on level of power. Carter and Smith argue that ‘the politics of regulation is not just about setting policy instruments; it also legitimizes eligibility to govern significant parts of the EU polity’34, and furthermore that legitimisation during governance changes to sectors is ‘a fundamental political process through which actors seek to determine and justify who should make decisions about which aspects of public affairs’.35 Political authority on wine, in the 1970s, was in a state of flux, and ‘up for grabs’.

Carter and Smith’s arguments for the discussion of ‘territory’ in policy-making, which is often incorrectly treated as uncontested, are salient. This helps elucidate the difference between, for instance, the Bordelais and Languedoc wine growing areas and their engagements with the European Community. The former were far less engaged with the European Community during the 1970s when the focus was on policies for table wine, but became suddenly alerted to its actions in 1990s when the CWP instituted quotas on quality wine export. This then led the Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux, along with its equivalent body in Bougogne, to place an ad in Le Monde expressing their anger.36 But this Caitríona Carter and Andy Smith, 'Revitalizing public policy approaches to the EU: 'territorial institutionalism', fisheries and wine,' Journal of European Public Policy 15, no. 2 (2008): 265.

Ibid., 269.



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