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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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In seeking to overtly study ‘European identity’, authors often have a previous and sustained interest in it, and this interest might lead sometimes to presupposing that a European identity does exist and that the search is to look for its manifestations thereof (there are, of course, some manifestations of such a thing) – or vice versa. The imprecision of the idea of For instance, Michael Bruter, Citizens of Europe? : the emergence of a mass European identity (Basingstoke ; New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005); Jeffrey T. Checkel and Peter J. Katzenstein, European identity, Contemporary European politics (Cambridge, UK ; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009); Marion Demossier, The European puzzle : the political structuring of cultural identities at a time of transition (New York ; Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2007); Neil Fligstein, Euroclash : the EU, European identity, and the future of Europe (Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press, 2008); Richard K. Herrmann, Thomas Risse-Kappen, and Marilynn B. Brewer, Transnational identities : becoming European in the EU, Governance in Europe (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2004); Willfried Spohn and Anna Triandafyllidou, Europeanisation, national identities and migration : changes in boundary constructions between western and eastern Europe, Routledge advances in sociology 5 (London: Routledge, 2002); Willfried Spohn and Atsuko Ichijo, Entangled identities : nations and Europe (Aldershot ; Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2005).

‘European identity’ and the multiplicity of approaches to it seem to make its study interesting but currently underdeveloped.

That there is rather less identity-related work in the field of history is at least in part because historians feel that these topics are best covered in its tradition arenas of sociological or anthropological examination, and that the tools of those disciplines serve it best. This is changing, however – historians Kolleen M. Guy and Eugen Weber’s attempts for instance, who both have looked at identity-formation in France in the nineteenth century. The advantage of a historian in studying identity is that he or she is able to marshal empirical evidence to show the gradual process of change. In this way, historians can help the field of European identity studies by walking the middle ground between being too quantitative and too quotidian. There is plenty of current emphasis on either analysing elites or analysing citizens, but less so studies of their ongoing interactions. Guy, for instance, identifies multiple key actors at higher and lower levels, by looking at relationships between local forces, private companies, and the nation-state. Likewise, this thesis has identified multiple actors at the local and regional, state, and European level, and the relationships between new or reinforced regional and national organisations, the French national government, and the institutions and players in Brussels.

Overt studies of European identity seem less fruitful than considered multi-angled studies around the topic. Studying a complicated and multifaceted topic like European identity overtly and broadly often leads to ultimately unhelpful and ambivalent statements like ‘Process and project involve publics and elites; they are shaped by and shape states; they are open-ended and have no preordained outcomes; and they serve both worthy and nefarious political objectives’.55 A historian might do best to keep in mind the conclusions from overt work on European identity that strongly suggests it is not static but contextual and bound by time and values, and that identity is best conceptualized as being multiplistic, often with layers or ‘nests’ of various identities. This thesis has hoped that the advantage of a historian contributing to the debates on identity in Europe is that they could approach the topic with a nuanced reading without a direct attack.

This thesis has tried to include the voices of a group of people who have often been marginalised, not only in the context of their own time, but in subsequent histories. It has also discussed a change in the sense of self as it pertains to vocational and political identity. As discussed in chapter four, those Languedocien viticultural leaders who were best able to negotiate the changes of the time – we can extrapolate to argue this was also the case for many average vignerons in similar circumstances growing similar crops – were those who became more professionalised in their positions, such as by joining cooperatives, learning new techniques through attending specialist fairs and conferences, investing in modern equipment, and adopting some scientific understanding of winegrowing. In essence, when growing table wine grapes no longer afforded the steady return it had their ancestors, table wine growers in the Midi could no longer afford an attitude of thinking they could make grapes and give little thought to the processes that followed. Not everyone was successful – a number of areas facing difficulty in adjusting to the sociological and political changes, such as those in the Alpine region, the Massif Central, as well as the Pyrénées, saw their vineyards ‘nearly…erased in the last quarter century.’56 Checkel and Katzenstein, European identity, 213.

Crowley, 'Changes in the French Winescape,' 254.

The pressure of the European Community’s quality-oriented policies, which successfully forced a decrease in vineyard surface area from 1976 onward (French acreage shrank 31% between 1968 and 198857) required adaptation and with this came a change in political behaviour. For it was this ‘génération d’innovateurs’ who managed to succeed where many left their vineyards: their secret was to combine, into a ‘double registre de légitimation’, involvement in those institutions that could be encouraged to move in the direction of the new policy of quality along with ‘la capacité à s’intégrer dans les multiples espaces de négotiation’ of the local and regional, Paris, and Brussels.58 III. Addressing Key Theories of European Integration Alan Milward’s argument that the European Community was a vehicle to advance economic and domestic policy in a more efficient and cost-effective way is supported is somewhat supported by this thesis but his explanation is rather too simple. In Milward’s The European Rescue of the Nation-State, which devotes considerable attention to the CAP, he argues that it is because the European Community abets the continued existence of the nation-state that it has been allowed to develop as it has.59 While this is borne out in some ways by the fact that the French government faced impending pressure with the financing of their table wine industry, it still does not, in itself, explain why they would involve themselves in this European policy.

The link this thesis has established between agriculture, identity, and tight French control over key national industries considerably complicates the situation. Creating the Common Wine Policy breached some important French values of agricultural state control and national Ibid., 252.

Genieys, 'Le retournement du Midi viticole,' 11.

Milward, The European Rescue of the Nation-State.

self-identification. Furthermore, the policy angered rather than pacified potential voters. And finally, the form of the initial Common Wine Policy was against the desires of the French national government, despite their very strong negotiating stance, suggesting that the state is not always able to retain its interests in pursuing policies at the level of the European Community. In essence, Milward provides an explanation of economic rationality, but not the motivation for ultimately pursuing such policies, particularly for sensitive, culturally-linked segments of the economy.

Andrew Moravscik’s central argument that national economic interests were the principal driver of European integration is also challenged by this thesis. If, as he posits, the rational self-interest of nations led to intergovernmental bargaining based overwhelmingly on domestic economic terms, why would the French government choose to pursue a policy that was very likely going to cause displeasure amongst the lobby groups of key domestic industries? The French were motivated to save the ailing wine industry, and knew they were unlikely to be able to cope with the growing financial cost of it. But choosing the European Community as the vehicle for this was not a straightforward choice.

The French had considerable economic concerns about the creation of the CWP, for a policy which needed to operate under a broader economic requirement of the free flow of products meant less ability to control imports and exports. Maintaining control over the flow and taxation of imports and exports would have been useful to the French, particularly given the knowledge that Italian production was on the increase and thereby, the risk of the inflow of Italian wines. France’s viticultural traditions are also deeply ingrained and upsetting them meant politically risking the wrath of the strong agricultural lobbies. Overall, it seemed in the French interests to retain control over their wine market. In this situation, a loose policy removing some custom tariffs and quotas seems a better option, but the policy adopted was far more comprehensive and integrationist.

There were certainly economic motivations for the creation of the Common Agricultural Policy – the welfarist European states were effectively competing with each other’s national subsidies, until the creation of the CAP solved this problem – but this explanation rather falls short when it comes to motivations for the inclusion of certain sectors in the CAP. There does not seem much impetus to undertake cooperation in the area of wine, particularly given the economic climate of the start of the 1970s. Further, it is even harder to account for, in the context of Moravscik’s analysis, the amount of energy devoted to a sector worth such a small part of the CAP budget (for the first half of 1975, it was between 1 – 2%).

Both Milward and Moravcsik’s theories for European integration would suggest the high likelihood of a European community that was something more akin to a super-customs-union or a large, administratively-complex free trade area. But that the European Community project has taken on such a different form indicates these theories are somewhat deficient in providing a full explanation. The negotiation, creation, and evolution of the European Community’s wine policy does not fit particularly well into either theory, and is a case study of an economically-minor, culturally-significant sector of the Common Agricultural Policy that persisted despite major challenges not only in the 1970s but in the following decades.

–  –  –

At the centre of the question about the success or otherwise of the Common Wine Policy is the question of the validity of its hybrid model. The European Community’s competing aims were reflected in the design of its wine policy; the competing aims of the CWP caused confusion for vignerons, who were in turn distressed by but also the material benefactors of different parts of the policy. In attempting to be both a social policy and an economic policy, the CWP faced internal and external contradictions. It wished to increase wages but also reduce production. The vignerons felt the competing aims in two ways. First, in an effort to increase their wages, they received various supports, such as pricing or storage aid, for their production, even if it went unsold. This caused wine production to continue to increase.

Second, because of efforts to reduce production by punishing table wine producers by favouring quality wine producers, and modernisation which threatened small, inefficient holdings, the predominantly small family farmers created wine cooperatives and producer groups to keep their livelihood against conglomeration pressures. Interestingly enough, this was in part paid for and supported by both the European Communities and the French national government. The rise of cooperatives was particularly significant for they were as important as any technology in the modernisation of wine growing in France, especially that of table wine.60 As such, the EEC did reach their goal of promoting modernisation, even if in this case indirectly, through inciting a local movement which found expression in the grouping together for support against the perceived threat of the Community in cooperatives and other organisations.

European Community’s influence in French rural transformation was noteworthy because it was so unprecedented in a country that had such strong control over its agriculture, as a result the fact that French identity was tied to its images of idyllic pays. But beyond this, it was noteworthy for it very likely saved the Languedocien wine industry in the long run. The French purses, as with other countries mired in the economic downturns of the 1970s, were Loubère et al., The Vine Remembers, 137.

not deep, and it would have been very difficult to keep up with the growing subsidy demands from the table wine industry. This CWP was arguably a major reason for the continuation of Midi viticulture where otherwise it may have collapsed – despite the inherent cyclical ups and downs of the wine industry, in both production and profitability, overproduction of wine became systemic in the 1960s and in the face of serious sociological changes in drinking habits and tastes, the table-wine producing region of Midi would have faced potential ruin.

This process was akin in some ways to the cooperatives saving the livelihoods of small-time vignerons in the first half of the 20th century. In the 1980s, the Languedoc-Roussillon vignerons began to adopt in earnest the policy of quality that the bureaucrats in the CWP had been pushing for since 1978 (and in some instances, even earlier.) Along with a general turn in European Community agriculture to a policy of quality that included foods – which would become accompanied by an upswing in the interest of identifying and protecting foods from particular regions, under the geographical indications regime – the Midi began to make serious and sometimes fruitful, even if slow, transformative efforts towards adopting the policy of quality to produce more appellation d’origine controllée wines. In this regard, the category vins de pays very much benefitted the Languedocien producers.

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