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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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This thesis analyses a part of France that lies in the south-east which is formally known as the région of Languedoc-Roussillon. Languedoc-Roussillon, which as previously mentioned historically produced a great deal of French table wine, has four wine-producing areas – Aude, Hérault, Gard, and Pyrénées-Orientales. The formal name for each of these four political units is département. The region of Languedoc-Roussillon actually has five départements, but the fifth, Lozère, produces negligible amounts of wine. Often, ‘Languedoc’ is used as a shorthand to mean the wines in the general area of the south as France – similarly, so is the term ‘Midi’. This is because the historical province of Languedoc contained Aude, Hérault, and the Gard, which together produces the vast majority of the wine in Languedoc-Roussillon. But it is also because the term ‘Roussillon’ in ‘LanguedocRoussillon’ is actually a nod to the history of the general area, as the historical Roussillon, long since abolished under the ancien régime, roughly corresponded to the modern département of the Pyrénées-Orientales, which through organic and repeated grouping and association, became amalgamated with Languedoc. This thesis uses, as most of the sources do, the terms Midi, Languedoc-Roussillon, and Languedoc interchangeably to refer to this wine-growing area in the south-east of France, unless specifically otherwise noted.

The terms referring to the grouping of the six Western European countries ought to be clarified as well. The term ‘European Economic Community’ (EEC) is the official name for the creation in 1957 of the organisation founded by France, Belgium, Luxembourg, West Germany, The Netherlands, and Italy. When the Treaty of Maastricht came into force in 1993, it introduced a new system of three pillars which together constituted the newly-coined ‘European Union’. These three pillars were the European Communities pillar, the European Foreign and Security Policy pillar, and the Justice and Home Affairs pillar (later re-named the Police and Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters pillar). The EEC was renamed the ‘European Community’ (EC) and subsumed under the first pillar, alongside the European Steel and Coal Community as well as the European Atomic Energy Committee. In 2009, the Treaty of Maastricht was replaced by the Treaty of Lisbon, and the European Union, unchanged in name, became a consolidated legal entity. It is commonplace for those who write on European integration history to refer to these various groupings before 1993 as the Community, the European Community, the European Economic Community, and Brussels rather interchangeably; this nomenclature practise is also adopted by this thesis.

The primary source base for this work is almost entirely in French. When cited phrases are short or translations considerably improve ease of reading, the text has been translated into English (this is particularly the case with wordy government documents in the French, especially in chapter two). Otherwise, they are retained in the French. All translations are the author’s own. The first appearance only of foreign terms in each chapter is italicised.

–  –  –

This thesis addresses the impact that the European Community’s wine policy had on table

wine growers in the Midi region in France in the 1970s through the following structure:

This introduction has introduced the overall thesis question, ‘What impact did the European Community have on table wine growers in the Midi region in France in the 1970s?’ It has also established important links between agriculture, the French state, and French identity. It has examined secondary literature primarily from anthropology, sociology, and political science to demonstrate the great importance of agriculture in France, but beyond this, how conceptualisations of agriculture and wine more specifically have affected the sense of self in France. Frenchness has long been tied up with the myth of the roots of a rural peasant idyll, and the place of wine in this popular image is highly symbolic and crucial. It also shows the dearth of literature specifically addressing the development and impact of the CWP from a historical point of view – this is one of the major gaps that this piece of work is intended to fill.

The first chapter focuses on the emergence of a common European wine policy and charts the course of negotiations from 1967 to 1970. However, as it was meant to be constructed partly to safeguard farmers’ incomes, those framing the wine policy faced a serious issue: should it forcibly reduce wine production to rebalance the market or should it focus on optimising the welfare aspect of the policy? The initial chapter suggests that the inability of the Community to find a solution resulted from the differences encountered in properly conceptualising the nature of the problem. The source base of the chapter is primary documents on the European Commission and the Council of Ministers from 1962 to 1970 collected from the Historical Archives of the European Commission (HAEC) and the Council of Ministers Archives (CMA), both in Brussels. It also includes primary documents from the French diplomatic service from 1967 – 1971 from the La Corneuve site of the Archives Diplomatiques de la Ministère des Affaires Étrangères de France (AD).

The second chapter looks at the operation of the Common Wine Policy through its first decade. The most noteworthy event of the 1970s was the Franco-Italian wine war which started at the beginning of 1975 and would last through 1976. The war was triggered by a large flood of Italian wine imports into France in January and February of 1975, to which neither the French national government nor Brussels and its CWP could adequately respond.





The incident prompted a round of negotiations over foundational aspects of the Common Wine Policy, during which time it was heavily revised to be closer in substance to the desires of the French delegations. The CWP became much more restrictive – it curbed planting rights, introduced grubbing up or the uprooting of vines, and laid down more rules about what could be planted and where. The source base of this chapter is primary documents on the European Commission and the Council of Ministers from 1970 – 1982 from the HAEC and CMA, supplemented by more Community level documents originating from these institutions but also including documents from the European Parliament from the Historical Archives of the European Union (HAEU), located in Florence. In addition, there are extensive primary documents used from the French diplomatic service from 1974 – 1976 from the La Corneuve site of the Archives Diplomatiques de la Ministère des Affaires Étrangères de France (AD), which is located in Paris. The chapter also uses primary sources from the archive collections of the London School of Economics and Political Science. The LSE archives contain an almost complete record of the transcriptions of the sittings of the European Parliament, and the Bulletins of the European Communities, and a number of other important documents published by the Office for the Official Publications of the European Communities.

The third and fourth chapters examine the reactions of vignerons in Languedoc-Roussillon to the Common Wine Policy. Though they were aware of the entry into force of the CWP, the attentions of Languedoc-Roussillon vignerons were first truly captured by the Franco-Italian wine crisis, which had after all taken place in their region. The chapters trace how new political relationships developed, through the process of the implementation of new national and Community wine policy. Wine production had a long history in this region, was central to its economy, and to the livelihood of millions of its viticulteurs, who were monoculturalist farmers – they grew grapes for wine and nothing else. Most of the viticulteurs there produced table wine. The Languedoc-Roussillon was arguably the region not only in France but in the whole Community that was most centrally affected by the CWP. Its table wine producers took to demonstrations and violence to express their anger with some of the Community’s policies. The Midi was by far the greatest single contributor to the EEC ‘wine lake.’ How did the viticulteurs understand their predicament, and who did they blame? Did they point to the EEC or to the French government? What prompted them to shift from taking their grievances to French officials to more lobbying at the Community level?

The third chapter examines the local and regional reactions in the Languedoc-Roussillon to the changes instituted at the European level from 1975 – 1976. The Wine Crisis prompted the beginning of the genuine engagement of Midi vignerons with the Common Wine Policy. The Midi vignerons saw the CWP and actors in Brussels as being responsible for their plight, wherein cheaper and comparable quality Italian table wines were flooding into the French market. They reacted in the initial period from 1975 – 1976 by acting through the French state, lobbying in particular the Ministry and Minister of Agriculture to help them. The Ministry of Agriculture, together with top level officials, in a hasty attempt to pacify demonstrations in the south, responded by placing an illegal tax on Italian wines. They thereafter created a national office for wine to allow vignerons to be engaged in the policymaking and policy-implementation process for table wines. However, this project was not sufficient to address the concerns of vignerons – despite some successes, the gap between producers and merchants as well as the perceived gap between south and north proved too wide at times for productive consensus. The source base of this chapter is primary sources from the Archives Nationales de France, Centre des archives contemporaines (AN) in Fountainebleau, particularly those originating from the French Ministry of Agriculture from 1962 – 1983, and a wide variety of regional and local documents consulted at the Archives départementales de l’Hérault (AH). The Hérault archives were chosen because Hérault contains Montpellier, which is the capital of Languedoc-Roussillon, and therefore the archives contains all the attendant bureaucratic paperwork important to the region, making it the richest record source. As well, every day of the daily newspaper La Journée Vinicole for the years 1974 – 1980 was consulted at the Archives Patrimoine in the Médiathèque EmileZola in Montpellier. Documents were also consulted at the Archives municipales de Sète (AMS), Sète being the port at the epicentre of the 1975 – 1976 crisis.

The fourth chapter continues the analysis of local and regional reactions to the Common Wine Policy, and in particular looks at the way the CWP affected organisational behaviour amongst Midi vignerons. The interventionist turn in the CWP from 1976 involved Brussels more deeply with the Midi vignerons, and after the breakdown of an already rocky relationship with Paris, these vignerons began to organise at the local and regional level to lobby at the Community level. This did not mean that various viticultural groups no longer took their grievances to French officials, but rather that they realised that many of the policy decisions affecting them were being taken in Brussels and they felt they ought to engage at that level. This was a significant break from the traditional French government imperative of speaking with one official voice in the European Community at the time. The source base of this chapter is the same as for chapter three.

The conclusion brings together different arguments from the previous chapters to explore some broad themes relating to the change in the role of national French government institutions towards their country’s wine producers, as well as to the rise of sub-national and non-state actors in particular policy circles. It also highlights how the case of the vignerons in the Languedoc-Roussillon runs counter to the idea that local and regional distinctiveness was lost against the forces of globalisation and the pressures of modernisation in the 1970s.

–  –  –

It used at one time to be said that if you scratched an American politician he would start dripping oil. In the European Community, politicians would be more likely to be found to have milk or wine in their veins.

- Neville-Rolfe, The Politics of Agriculture in the European Community, vi.

The need for an organised common market for wine was established at the Stresa Conference in 1958, alongside those for fruits and vegetables, milk and dairy products, cereals, and meat, but it became a true enfant terrible. Few predicted that the policy would require three years of ‘extremely arduous negotiations.’1 These negotiations and the resultant policy were unique amongst the markets because of the traditional and cultural importance and symbolism of wine amongst Member States, and due to the complexities of wine as an economic good. This chapter charts the course of and analyses French involvement in the 2965/X/70-E: The Background to the Common Organisation of the Market in Wine, 1970. European Commission. Luxembourg: Division for Agricultural Information in collaboration with Directorate-General for Agriculture.

negotiations over the Common Wine Policy (CWP) from 1967 until its conclusion on April 28, 1970, and discusses the broader issues related to European integration that it throws into relief.

Basis for a unified European Wine Policy and its Halting First Steps, 1961-1967 While there was plenty of earnest talk about the necessity of its inclusion in any integrated European agricultural policy in the years following the Stresa Conference2, serious discussions on the wine policy would not occur for many years. However, the Stresa Conference introduced an important mandate which would later burden wine policy negotiators with a moral imperative: the Stresa resolution ‘introduced a number of important new concepts, such as...of course, the importance of the family farm.’3 Quick progress on other common markets in the early 1960s left the one for wine quite behind. On May 31, 1961, a proposal for a common cereals market was put forward by the Commission to the Council, as was one for milk and pig meat. A few months later in July, there were formal proposals for markets in fruits and vegetables, eggs, and poultry meat. But wine policy proposals were delayed, with the Commission citing concerns over the availability of statistical evidence to understand the scope of what they were dealing with.



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