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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 research in this thesis strongly lines up with the major idea espoused in one of the most recent major publications on CAP history, Ann-Christina Knudsen’s Farmers on Welfare. In this lucid piece of work, Knudsen sets out to dispel the standard creation story of the CAP, which she states traditionally emphasises the bargain between French and German national economic interests. She focuses on values and ideas as transmitted through historical institutionalism to explain the logic of the EC heavily funding an ailing economic sector in its bid to undertake serious integration. The central argument of her work is that welfarism and redistributionism were the instrumental values common to many European countries and that the realisation of this led to the belief that the protection of the agriculture sector would best take place at a cooperative supranational level, rather than a competitive national level (where the subsidies of one nation fought with others to be effective.) She demonstrates that it was not competing national interests and strategising national statesmen who primarily set the agenda on the creation of the CAP, but rather the collective recognition by European states that their shared belief in agricultural exceptionalism required serious intervention and group action.

A major criticism of Knudsen’s work, however, is that she systematically understates the importance of political actors and downplays state differences in order to demonstrate her point that common ideas and social values were paramount for the creation of CAP. Her treatment of de Gaulle, for instance, does not seem to underscore adequately the great concern he generated over France’s genuinely uncertain future in the CAP during that time, and thereby the future of the entire European integration project. In this sense, more attention could have been paid to pivotal national interests that really did count. There are historians who would dispute her ideas about common values; Gisela Hendriks for instance states that the intrusion of Community institutions into agricultural policy-making was not only ‘bitterly resented by some member states’17 but ‘threatened the fundamental existence of the EEC itself’.18 Knudsen also says nothing about wine, and instead looks at the formative years when the focus of the policy lay elsewhere. Her work is also top down, and draws heavily on diplomatic history, and does not consider the impact of the policy on Europe’s farmers.

However, Knudsen’s attempt to move beyond a state-centric history is successful and her argument that the CAP was essential welfarist in nature is the most compelling of current CAP histories explaining the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of the eventual CAP policy paradigm. She does this particularly well by adding substance and nuance to the CAP evolution story by offering a narrative that does not simply revolve around French and German interests.

For France and Germany to reach agreement was of great importance for the creation of the CAP, but to focus so heavily on a model with these two actors is insufficient. For example, Thiemeyer and Hendriks both follow this line. Thiemeyer’s argument is that the French government benefitted most from the CAP and thereby supported it, and that the Germans accepted the CAP for diplomatic reasons. He differs from Knudsen in saying that the only political actor with any interest beyond a national one was Sicco Mansholt. He and Hendriks both claim the French government was particularly enthusiastic about a large and intrusive Gisela Hendriks, 'The Creation of the Common Agricultural Policy,' in Widening, Deepening and Acceleration: The European Economic Community, 1957-1963, ed. Anne Deighton and Alan Milward (BadenBaden: Nomos, 1999), 142.

Ibid., 139.

CAP because of the fear of growing German industrial power.19 To keep balance on the continent, the French had to be agriculturally strong. Though there are alternative methodologies like Knudsen’s, the majority of CAP analysis seems to invoke Franco-German relations. This thesis attempts to move beyond this analysis by looking at an area of the CAP where French-Italian relations were centrally important instead and where the German influence was comparatively very small indeed.

Downplaying key political actors is perhaps less egregious than the outright omission of important parts of society affected by the policies of Brussels. Most of the CAP histories focus on negotiations in Brussels with an emphasis on nation-states and major diplomatic actors. The works attempting to elucidate technical processes at Brussels might be forgiven for leaving these actors outside of the scope of their work – for instance, Edmund NevilleRolfe’s The Politics of Agriculture in the European Community was written with the intent of explaining how the CAP and the British national policy took such different routes from the late 1940s until the year the work came out in 1984. His political history focuses on how national political attitudes influenced the progression of the CAP, as well as the interplay of these different states. He traces the complexities and technicalities of policy-making with regards to a common agricultural policy. Rather than making any particularly strong historical statements about the CAP, Neville-Rolfe seems more interested in elucidating the technical process for those who are not familiar with the daily run of life in Brussels.

However, Neville-Rolfe exhibits a narrow treatment of nations which is shared by other key CAP historians. His analysis uses the state as the primary actor and is in many ways a See Guido Thiemeyer, 'The Mansholt Plan, the Definite Financing of the Common Agriculture Policy and the Enlargement of the Community, 1969-1973,' in Beyond the Customs Union: The European Community's Quest for Deepening, Widening, and Completion, 1969-1975, ed. Jan van der Harst (Baden-Baden: Nomos, 2007), 216; and Hendriks, 'The Creation of the Common Agricultural Policy,' 144.

traditional diplomatic history. Clean divisions are retained around each of the states and the Commission; highlighting the response to the Commission’s common external tariff proposal, Neville-Rolfe tells us, ‘...in Germany...The Dutch, on the other hand...On this basis, the Netherlands...with French support...the benevolent neutrality of Italy and Belgium...’.

Little is provided in terms of developments within the country or the actions of lobby groups, for instance – this thesis attempts to address that gap.

This focus is problematic because it tends to blur a potentially critical distinction between different units of analysis. For example, Thiemeyer states that ‘the German perspective on CAP was completely different from the French,’20 which he claims is a clearly unified enthusiasm. He goes on to say that the Germans were ambivalent about it and that the Ministry of Agriculture, because of the strong influence of the Deutscher Bauernverband, obviously supported it ‘in principle’.21 This betrays a tendency to conflate the opinions of two groups with, even if potentially overlapping, still separate interests and modes of operation. It should not be taken for granted that the Ministry of Agriculture will accede to a powerful agricultural lobby group. Even though Thiemeyer states that the Deutscher Bauernverband had such an influence over the Ministry, he does not analyse the situation from the perspective of either the DBV or, more broadly, farmers themselves. Thiemeyer, though, is only writing one contributory chapter and its physical limitations obviously prevent him analysing a large number of actors. But that he, and many others, do not tend to find an analysis of sub-state actors important is a drawback for CAP historical literature, considering the obvious importance of farmers, public servants, and consumers in this regard.

Thiemeyer, 'The Mansholt Plan, the Definite Financing of the Common Agriculture Policy and the Enlargement of the Community, 1969-1973,' 207.


Recent historical works about the CAP argue it was more of a social policy vehicle than an economic one. Milward, Knudsen, Marsh and Swanney, and Thiemeyer all make reference to the CAP as a social policy. The research in this thesis on the Common Wine Policy certainly supports this but goes further, agreeing with Knudsen that the objective of closing the farmincome gap was the raison d’être of the parties involved in the CAP in facilitating continued commitment to ongoing discussions and meetings: it was in fact what ‘glued negotiations together’.22 Most historians agree that the pressure of technological and social changes in the eighteenth century meant a shift from income gained primarily through agriculture to income gained primarily from industry and services in Europe. This caused the relative decline of farm income. Milward mentions that a basic level of agricultural income had become the standard policy across each European nation. Thiemeyer argues that overproduction, though highly expensive, was necessary for the Community because ‘agricultural policy in this period was not designed to secure the supply of goods to the European population but to guarantee the revenues of workers in the agricultural sector’.23 Identity and values are underdeveloped themes in CAP histories generally. If the CAP is related to identity concerns, what are these exactly? Despite the fact that cultural and identity issues have been flagged as being important, there is little literature on this. For example, the particular significance of the national agricultural sector in France – so crucial to the historical reasoning as to why France was such a proponent of the CAP in its full and final form – is often explained as being embedded deep within the French mentality.24 This is then supposed to account for a variety of ideological motivations, but historians have not provided a sufficient account of this idea, nor have they elaborated as to how this bears on decisionKnudsen, Farmers on Welfare: The Making of Europe's Common Agricultural Policy, 21.

Thiemeyer, 'The Mansholt Plan, the Definite Financing of the Common Agriculture Policy and the Enlargement of the Community, 1969-1973,' 212.

Ibid., 204.

making. There has been some attempt to study institutional identity25 and more work in this regard would be useful.

Though the previous works mentioned have emphasised at some point in their texts that these abstract ideas are important, they have neither done more than make allusions or quick statements nor have they attempted to demonstrate how these bear on the actual reasoning of, perceptions towards, and ideas developed about the CAP. Knudsen refers to the new idea of the family farm and discusses how farmers exist as real entities, legal entities, and in the myths of the nation. But how do these myths and identities function empirically (if indeed they do)? This question deserves some research. The non-economic impacts of the CAP have not been well-documented. The economic and political ramifications have been discussed at length, but not the impact of these new policies from Brussels that were introduced to family farms and their workers.

Most of these works also focus on ‘big agriculture’, such as cereals, and the way Europe needed to modernise its agriculture by increasing the size of the unit. The unfortunate lack of attention on smaller markets, like wine, has resulted in this important and characteristicallyEuropean market product lacking its own analysis in these histories.26 This thesis argues that the wine market did not fit neatly alongside the rest of the agricultural product markets, because of the complexities of wine as an economic good, as well as its cultural and, especially in France, national importance. During the construction of the Mansholt Plan, for instance, were there any provisions or discussions regarding farms producing specialty An exception is Katja Seidel’s analysis of the Directorate General for Agriculture or DG VI. Her study leads her to conclude that socialisation occurred amongst those in DG VI through a war generation identity, homogenous educational and professional backgrounds, and previous international networks on post-war negotiations relating to agriculture. Katja Seidel, 'Making Europe through the CAP: DG VI and its high officials,' in Fertile Ground for Europe? The History of European Integration and the Common Agricultural Policy since 1945, ed. Kiran Klaus Patel (Baden-Baden: Nomos, 2009), 177.

Neville-Rolfe has a five-page appendix cursorily addressing ‘the wine problem’.

products, which essentially could not modernise? After all, the qualities of these goods are derived from their traditionality, so they do not fit into the regular debate about modernising versus subsidising.

Finally, most of the CAP literatures end their discussions in the 1960s. The relevant works tend to be interested in the initial negotiations, but the negotiations for wine did not begin in earnest until 1967, and the regime itself did not begin until 1970. As well, using a flexible set of units of analysis can help in assessing the non-economic impacts of the initial decades of the CAP, and helps shed light on these informal processes that seem to be missing from political or economic discussions of the CAP. Breaking from the emphasis on actor-centered histories can help us understand how farmers, consumers, lobby-groups, economists, lawyers, and public servants were part of the CAP process.

The political science and economic literature related to my work focuses mostly on the development or the state of wine regulations, whether in France or in the Community. The majority of these pieces were designed for better contemporary understanding of the European wine market and serve this role admirably. However, while their analysis helps sketch out the narrative of the Common Wine Policy, they have shortcomings, some of which clearly demonstrate the need for a historical treatment of the CWP. Some works are also more technical than analytical.

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