«The London School of Economics and Political Science Wine In Their Veins: France and the European Community’s Common Wine Policy, 1967-1980 Maria ...»
On January 14, 1962, after the 140 hour ‘agricultural marathon’ of negotiations over the propositions for various integrated markets, the decision to create six agricultural markets was approved. This was an enormous undertaking – Rolf Lahr, who had been Germany’s negotiator, wrote in a letter four days after the announcement of the approval that ‘Almost For a more detailed treatment of the Stresa Conference, see Knudsen, Farmers on Welfare: The Making of Europe's Common Agricultural Policy, 122-130.
Edmund Neville-Rolfe, The Politics of Agriculture in the European Community (London: Policy Studies Institute, 1984), 205.
every day ended in nightly sessions. When the last session ended yesterday morning at half past five it had lasted for twenty-one hours. Two French experts suffered heart attacks, others returned to their hotels….But the Belgian foreign minister Spaak is right that this session, instead of becoming the largest failure of the politics of European cooperation, has become the largest success’.4 Sicco Mansholt, then Vice-President of the European Commission and in charge of the agricultural portfolio, declared on the occasion that the six member states had ‘consciously burnt our national boats behind us in order jointly to steer a European course’.5 This joint European course in name included a comprehensive European wine policy, but at this point it was still underdeveloped. Commission President Walter Hallstein and Mansholt envisioned at this juncture that an eventual wine policy would fall under a lower level of protection relative to the other common market organisations (CMOs) which would see it mostly subject to customs duties and levies on imports.
As a very preliminary step, in the same year, a regulation came out with four major provisions, mainly administrative, to lay the foundations for the eventual creation of a common wine policy. The four provisions of Regulation 24/626 were first, each country was to establish a vineyard register, second, a central authority was to keep track of annual production levels, third, strict rules were to be established regarding quality wines produced in specified regions, and fourth, future estimates of resources and requirements were to be compiled annually. This regulation was appropriately named ‘...on the eventual establishment of a common organisation of the market in wine’. In contrast with this rather minimalist series of measures, the other markets had preparatory arrangements for their upcoming Letter written by Rolf Lahr, January 14, 1962. As cited in Knudsen, Farmers on Welfare: The Making of Europe's Common Agricultural Policy.
Bulletin of the European Economic Community, No 3, 1962. Luxembourg: Office for the Official Publications of the European Communities.
'Regulation (EEC) No 24/62 on the progressive establishment of a common organisation of the market in wine,' in OJ 30, 989-990: Journal Officiel des Communautés Européenes, 1962.
market organisations which were considerably more wide-ranging. For instance, the creation of the milk market was first addressed after Stresa in 1964 with the establishment of Regulation 13/64. This preliminary text already contained detailed and solid plans for a price levy system for imports, as well as pricing mechanisms for the Community support structures, such as how often a threshold price would be established, and even included a timeframe for the abolishment of intra-community tariffs on milk and milk products. At twelve pages, the document was six times longer than the wine regulation. Four years later, the common market organisation for milk was rendered in full.7 There was not to be a similar trajectory for the wine policy. After a lag of five years, the negotiations for a common wine market finally began in earnest in 1967. The negotiations for the cereals sector took much of the attention of the Commission and Council before this – after the May 1961 proposal, discussions progressed quickly and the Council agreed unanimously with the Commission’s proposal on cereals. But while the Council expected to have the market running in July 1962, the inability of Germany to come to an agreement by 1964 with the other members over the fixing of wheat prices meant a long delay on the matter. An unsatisfied de Gaulle prompted the 1965 ‘Empty Chair Crisis’, which then loomed large over the wine negotiations.
In fact, a series of difficulties surrounding the integration project in general may explain in part the determination of the actors in continuing with negotiations even when it seemed quite impossible to reach consensus. The oft-repeated claim of Commissioners and Members of European Parliament (MEPs) – that the Common Agricultural Policy was tied to the fate of the European integration project as a whole – came to be used to discuss the CWP. Achieving 'Regulation (EEC) No 804/68 of the Council of 27 June 1968 on the common organisation of the market in milk and milk products,' in L148/13, Official Journal of the European Communities, 1968.
an integrated policy on wine began to be discussed and spoken of as being integral to the success of the CAP. This chapter is concerned with two main questions – how was an agreement managed and why was a common policy on wine so difficult to negotiate – and concludes with broader insights into the integration process in general.
After the establishment of the provisions in 1962, there would not be another major movement toward a unified wine policy until a meeting of the Groupe de travail ‘vins’, the Council’s group of wine experts which reported to the Comité Spécial Agriculture (CSA).
The Groupe was composed of key decision-makers for the Common Agricultural Policy.
While the Comité des Représentants Permanents (COREPER) was typically thought of as the major organ where French leadership is exercised in European policy, when it came to the Community’s agricultural decisions, it was the CSA and ‘not the COREPER, that from 1960 onward functioned as the forum for high-level representatives in the Community.’8 This argument, also advanced by Knudsen, was borne out in the course of archival research for this thesis and explains the relative dearth of COREPER files. The CSA announced that in February 1967, the upcoming Council of Europe meeting would include the first meeting of the Comité de Hauts Fonctionnaires’s sub-committee on wines; COREPER and the Council wanted to present a unified, coordinated attitude of the Six there.9 This was particularly noteworthy, as the Council was a body with no agricultural remit and yet it was this group that in part was responsible for triggering a new move forward in European agricultural policy. These kinds of external pressures would prove to be vital for keeping up the momentum of the discussions on the wine policy.
Knudsen, Farmers on Welfare: The Making of Europe's Common Agricultural Policy, 88.
'70/67 (RP/CRS 2)',COREPER minutes from its 410th meeting in Brussels, January 17-19, 1967. CM2 1967/134, CMA.
Earnest Negotiations for Creating a Common Wine Market Organisation from 1967 In June 1967, triggered by the Council of Europe meeting a few months prior, the Commission finally picked up from the 1962 regulations that laid down the basic administrative foundations for a marché commun viti-vinicole, recalling its propositions for a common wine policy in 1960 based on its belief that a general common market could not work without an integrated wine policy. The Commission admitted that, because of the lack of movement on a common wine policy since 1962, the situation in the Community continued to be characterised by very strong protectionism and divisions between the different national viticultural policies, due to ‘natural and historical’ reasons.10 External pressure repeatedly pushed forward halting discussions. The Council and Commission wanted an agreement before the meeting on December 11, 1967 of the Comité des Hauts Fonctionnaires sur les vins et spiritueux du Conseil de l’Europe.11 Similarly, at a Council meeting on July 16, 1969, the German delegation drew attention to the fact that the six member states would be required to give their definitions on oenological methods at the upcoming meetings on October 13 and 19, 1969 of the Organisation internationale de la vigne et du vin (OIV). The OIV was an international intergovernmental organisation dedicated to dealing with scientific and technical aspects of viticulture and viniculture (as laid out in the introduction, viticulture refers to the growing of grape vines and viniculture to that of the knowledge of making wine.). The Germans pressed the Council for a resolution, pointing out that the issue that needed to be decided at the OIV meetings corresponded precisely with the decisions that needed to be taken on the Community’s COM (67) 289 final: Proposition d'un reglement du conseil portant dispositions complémentaire en matière d'organisation commune du marché viti-vinicole, le 23 juin 1967, CM2 1970/634.
70/67 (RP/CRS 2): Comité des representants permanents projet de compte rendu sommaire de la 410ème réunion, Bruxelles, les mardi 17, mercredit 18 et jeudi 19 janvier 1967. February 1, 1967. CM2 1967/134, CMA.
proposed wine policy, and that this would be an ideal time to move forward with the latter. At this same meeting, the Groupe de travail ‘Vins’ followed up the German point by saying it wanted to call to the attention of COREPER the necessity of coordinating the attitude of the Six ahead of the meeting of the Comité ‘Vins’ of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).12 The force of external pressure was internalised in the Community – these international meetings were important political chances to demonstrate a unified Communitarian stance;
the Members knew that if they could not demonstrate this, they would face further threats to their ability to create a unified market. Decisions made at other non-Community organisations that were binding – such as those at OIV, where changes had to be ratified by all its members and all Six Member States were members – could potentially place unwanted restrictions on decision-makers in the Community when creating policy for this already complicated area.
A Major Obstacle: The Difference between the French and Italian Wine Systems The most serious obstacle to integration was the profound difference between the French and the Italian wine-production systems, which was to plague the Council and Commission negotiations. The French wine system had been strictly organised since the Code du Vin was adopted in 1936. The French had severe regulations on planting, as well as a market geared towards reducing the production of poor quality wines, and the French government regularly intervened in the case of pricing issues due to harvest fluctuations. The French also had a rich heritage of agricultural cooperatives, which are of significant importance because around this 'Problème posé par les travaux de l'Office International du Vin (O.I.V.) en matière de définitions et de pratiques oenologiques'. July 16, 1969. BAC 3/1978 No. 1451, HAEC.
time they accounted for 42% of total production in France, and 70% of production in the Midi, the largest wine-growing region by volume in the world at the time.
The Italian system, however, was ‘marqueé par un très grand libéraliseme; bien plus, la vigne étant considérée comme un plante colonisatrice, sa culture en est largement encouragée, dans certaines conditions du moins’13 as the Italians encouraged the planting of vines and the development of vineyards as a way to improve the living conditions for farmers in poor rural areas. Their wine market produced a large amount, comparable in the 1960s and 1970s to France, but was still very much in its infancy as far as having a modern, national, and regulated market was concerned. Most wine produced was consumed in the country, and was of table wine quality. In 1963, the Italians developed the Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC), in response to the re-organisation required by the Council regulation of the previous year. In 1965, in part due to trade pressure from the French, the Italians enacted policies to counter fraud. But for them, their principal policy aim was to encourage the spread of wine-growing as a national economic and social development tool. Both France and Italy wanted to reproduce their national models at the European level. Finding a compromise between these two approaches would not prove easy.
The Commission’s proposal for the development of a common wine policy was initially a result of three major lines of thought – that any policy produced should address ‘the adjustment of production and consumption’, that it should undertake to improve the quality of Community wine, and that it should harmonise the divergent national legislation. In practice, these three aims resulted in their own individual debates. The first of these was reflected in debates conceptualising the nature of the problem for which a common wine policy would be COM (67) 289 final: Proposition d'un reglement du conseil portant dispositions complémentaire en matière d'organisation commune du marché viti-vinicole, le 23 juin 1967, CM2 1970/634.
a solution. The resultant problems achieving this were partly because of lack of or the misreading of evidence, and the differences between economic and political aims in the CWP. The second issue turned around the debate that eventually solidified around table vs.
quality wine. The compromise later reached that would have adverse effects on both table wine producers and market balance. The third issue became about problems understanding historically different methods of making wine.
By July 1968, a year after negotiations had begun, the fixing of prices for the common markets of milk, beef and veal, sugar, rice, oilseeds and olive oil, and cereals had all been established, but not for wine. The French complained about the lack of progress, but the gridlock was largely due to their lack of agreements with many aspects of the proposal. In a long, detailed, special report to the CSA14, the primary argument of the French delegation was this: to maintain balance in the wine market, one ought to control the level of production and the level of imports, which the French insisted could only be effective if at the same time there was a determined push to eliminate and discourage the production of poor quality wines.