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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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Timo Kortteinen, a sociologist, wrote his 1984 article ‘Wine Production in the European Community since 1975’ on the economic integration of the Community with reference to wine. He discusses the mechanisms of the pricing system, the measures of tax harmonisation, and the effects of integration on trade and production. His key argument is that the structural policy of the Community was paradoxical, as many of its components did not reduce wine production at all but rather increased yields (for example, new cultivation methods and new vine varietals both accomplished this in the 1970s). He argues that the wine problem was symptomatic and part of bigger problems in the ‘whole agricultural system in the Community.’27 He also complains that the wine issue had been ‘so far treated in the Community solely as an economical and political problem, i.e. how to get rid of the surplus wine with the lowest cost both economically and politically.’28 Though his concern is that the public health point of view should be examined, in regards to what Kortteinen sees as the

Community’s attempts to increase consumption, his complaint highlights an important issue:

that the economic and political treatment of the issue have dominated the agenda, and other important factors, like social aspects, have been neglected.

His follow-up piece in 1990, ‘Alcoholic beverages and agriculture in the European Community’ is very similar to his previous piece, with additional discussion on the Community policies towards ethyl alcohol beverages. He blames the inability to create a common market in ethyl alcohol on the inability to achieve balance in the wine market, which he argues could only be solved by prioritising the restructuring of alcohol production over price and farmers’ income policies.29 Both of his works however were meant as contemporary overview pieces, and his analysis is not historical, nor does it comment on the evolution of the policy, but only on certain technical aspects.

Jeffrey Munsie’s writing provides a good overview of the legal aspects of the regulation. His legal history paper is a review of the international regulations on wine, so his section on the Timo Kortteinen, 'Wine Production in the European Community since 1975,' British Journal of Addiction, no.

79 (1984): 325.


Timo Kortteinen, 'Alcoholic beverages and agriculture in the European Community,' Contemporary Drug Problems 17, no. 4 (1990).

EEC is relatively short but does make important remarks; it also makes good use of the texts of the EEC regulations. Munsie’s narrative clearly demonstrated the centrality of winemaking to the European continent, where he claims wine-making ‘thrived for centuries before being introduced to the rest of the world.’30 He highlights how very divergent the winemaking traditions of the European countries were, particularly of the main four -France, Italy, Germany, and Spain,- and how they protected their national interests in their markets. The rise of international trade in wine in the 20th century, however, caused problems. His work also notes that the CWP was created partly because previous agreements were still encumbered by ‘customs duties, quotes, and excise taxes,’31 which raises the rather interesting question why the CWP did not just become a simpler, loose free-trade policy; this question, however, is not answered in his work.

But despite the historical aspect of his work, Munsie’s piece still lacks a sense of the progression and development of these regulations. His work takes the regulations at their face value and as static pieces; he also maintains the same kind of technical interest that Kortteinen displayed. He makes no reference to the impact of these policies beyond the national level, his agents are ‘France’, ‘Italy’, ‘Germany’, and so on, and he does not delve into individual actors nor the interests of other groups, like agricultural lobbies. He also has some unsupported and unclear assertions about consumption and production levels in the EEC, which is not surprising, given that some of the reports from within the EEC itself are also unclear and sometimes contradictory regarding these issues. This is one aspect that my work aims to redress.

Jeffrey A Munsie, 'A Brief History of the International Regulation of Wine Production,' (Harvard Law School, 2002), 3.

Ibid., 19.

The book that is likely the closest relative of my study is Pierre Spahni’s 1988 book The Common Wine Policy and Price Stabilisation. His is currently the most comprehensive analysis of the CWP, covering the background of French interventionism before discussing the CWP in the context of the creation of the EC and the rise of the CAP. Spahni’s work tries to fill the gap on missing economic and econometric analysis of the policies to stabilise the wine market (though it fills the gap on studies of the CWP in general at the time.) Spahni’s work, however, is another very technical piece. An excellent economic study, his central aim is to ‘analyse wine market fluctuations from a price stabilisation perspective’.32 Though he makes reference to the germination of his book being in watching the ‘bewildering scenes of farmers waging a war on wine imports from Italy’, his work cannot, unfortunately, hope to answer why people would react so violently to the ‘readjustment of trade and production patterns within the Community,33 though he very admirably explains what the underlying mechanisms were of the market wherein these producers were raging.34 His already haphazard narrative is further interrupted by the very detailed econometric analyses, though these support his conclusion that the difficulties in the market were from ‘shocks in supply and resulting price instability, in other words from risk’.35 He also notes that the CWP’s objectives and principles seem to have shifted, but he does not elaborate.36 Pierre Spahni, The Common Wine Policy and Price Stablisation (Aldershot: Avebury, 1988), xi.

Ibid., xiv.

Oddly enough, probably the best (and certainly one of the only) works discussing and analysing the wine lake crisis of 1975 is ‘The European Community: An Exercise in Decision-Making’, a 1977 release of an educational simulation of the crisis for students. The book gives a solid overview of the viewpoints of the nations involved in the wine crisis, identifies the major actors involved, describes the basic mechanisms of pricing in the CAP, and explains the measures available to combat surpluses in short- and long-term ways. The appendix is particularly good. The book’s drawbacks for my purposes are fairly obvious: it is didactic, greatly oversimplifies complicated situations for the purposes of ease of understanding and use, and the structure of the piece, as a game, highly limits its academic utility and cohesion. See M Clarke et al., The European Community: An Exercise in Decision-Making (London: UACES, 1978).

Spahni, The Common Wine Policy and Price Stablisation, 77.

Ibid., 125-132.

The existing literature on the French wine market situation is dominated by political science and economics works. L’économie viticole française, published by the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, covers over a hundred years of French agricultural history in one chapter before moving on to elucidate the characteristics of the current wine market in France, the actors in the wine economy, and its organisation and operation. The very short section on the EEC helpfully illustrates the different levels of apprehension on the French side towards the new Common Wine Policy of 1970, by, for example, referencing the opinions of the Minister of Agriculture, a journalist, and a farmer.37 It covers the crises of the 1970s briefly, making the considered statement that social and technical concerns should be taken together in analyses of the difficulties.

Viticulteurs en crise, published by the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique : Centre Regional de la Publication de Toulouse, is another government-commissioned piece. Its authors claim their position was that of participant-observer in attempting to discover the socio-economic causes of the crise viticole in the Midi-Pyrénées. The attempt to go beyond the Community and national levels and address the impact on farmers is appreciated;

however, it does not analyse if the farmers were involved in influencing further decisions at the Community level, or what their mutual relationship was like. That is, the work still treats the relationship in one direction – the influence of the Community and its policies on local and regional groups. The work also takes quite a sympathetic line with the viticulteurs and their families, which is likely a result of its anthropological methodology. Both books tend to be descriptive rather than analytical, a result of their origin as government reports and not academic ones.

P Bartoli et al., L'économie viticole française (Paris: Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, 1987), 24.

A good overview of contemporary interest mediation between farmers and the state over agricultural decisions is provided in John T.S. Keeler’s 1987 book The Politics of Neocorporatism in France. In this clear and broad-ranging monograph,38 he focuses a good deal of attention on the politics of the most powerful French farmers’ union, the Fédération Nationale des Syndicats d'Expoitants d'Agricoles (FNSEA).This is unsurprising, given the organisation’s stature in France and the wide reach of the books, but it does obscure some of the farmers who were not part of FNSEA or otherwise felt the FNSEA did not represent them or their interests. The Midi vignerons were, taken together, resistant to FNSEA and participated little in the organisation.39 Where Keeler’s work is particularly illuminating is in his close study of the agricultural politics of three different départements, for it is an excellent demonstration that French national studies of agriculture can sometimes paint broad brushstrokes that obfuscate important regional differences. In these cases, regions need their own narratives. To go even further, the narratives of these regions, once told, should be integrated into a broader narrative on a national level, and if applicable, a European level – which is how this thesis is structured.

Finally, Andrew Moravscik’s work, The Choice for Europe, is an important political science work on the origins and evolution of European integration. He argues that ‘economic interests, relative power, and credible commitments’40 are what accounts for the integration process. His central thesis is that the analysis of competing domestic interests demonstrates that rational self-interest led to intergovernmental bargaining based overwhelmingly on economic terms. He is not generally incorrect about the economic need to create the Common John T. S. Keeler, The Politics of Neo-corporatism in France: Farmers, the State, and Agricultural Policymaking in the Fifth Republic (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987).

Jean Philippe Martin, 'Wine Growers' Syndicalism in the Languedoc: Continuity and Change,' Sociologia Ruralis 36, no. 3 (1996).

Andrew Moravcsik, The Choice for Europe: Social Purpose and State Power from Messina to Maastricht (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998), 4.

Agricultural Policy – De Gaulle’s attempts in the 1960s to make and support the CAP were incisive41 – but can it account for its continuance, particularly in certain areas? Moravscik’s rationalistic argument about economic national self-interest propelling integration forward does not help explain the creation and continuation of the Common Wine Policy. In the very different climate of the 1970s, during a time of world economic crisis, and currency fluctuations, there does not seem to nearly as much impetus to undertake cooperation in the

area of wine. The French had economic apprehensions about the creation of the CWP:

production was increasing in both France and the creation of a policy which required the free flow of products meant less ability to control exports. Taxed exports would have been one of the best options to get rid of products; with Italian production on the increase, the French knew there was a risk of 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. 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.

The historical literature related to wine, agriculture, and identity, the third strand being assessed, is quite limited and, given its subjective nature, less straightforward than some of the previous literature, but provides important insight into wine as a social good. Here, four major historical pieces are assessed – a broader review of works from other disciplines is provided in the next section, where these pieces are drawn together to demonstrate key links between France, French identity, and agriculture.

Moravcsik treats this further in a part-two article relating to De Gaulle, where he distinguishes between De

Gaulle’s political and economic considerations. Andrew Moravcsik, 'De Gaulle between Grain and Grandeur:

The Economic Origins of French EC Policy, 1958-1970," Part I,' Journal of Cold War Studies 2, no. 2 (Spring 2000); Andrew Moravcsik, 'De Gaulle between Grain and Grandeur: The Economic Origins of French EC Policy, 1958-1970," Part II,' Journal of Cold War Studies 2, no. 3 (Fall 2000). A good response is found in N.

Piers Ludlow, 'Challenging French Leadership in Europe: Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and the Outbreak of the Empty Chair Crisis of 1965-1966,' Contemporary European History 8, no. 2 (1999).

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