When the European Commission (dis)Credits Experts (un)Fit to Its Needs : The Decline of the French Label of Origin in Wine

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 18:40
Oral Presentation
Romain BLANCANEAUX, Sciences Po Bordeaux, France
Since Brussels has set regulatory measures for the wine sector in the 60’s, the French government has endorsed policies offering a high level of recognition of its traditional, “Denomination of Origin” (D.O.) wines at a European scale. In 2007, however, it voted a reform calling for a more industrialized European policy with a new hierarchy for its wines. This article defends the hypothesis that this switch is ascribable to a change in the institutional relations between French experts and the European Commission. In the early European Community, French experts gained legitimacy among European officials, whose demand for expertise, and sociological background, favored them. Whereas the French expertise production was fit to the Commission’s demand in the 1970’s, the situation differed dramatically fifty years later, as the Commission’s expectations in terms of expertise had evolved. Its changing institutional role progressively played a pivotal role, as it contributed to depreciate the French expertise at the origin of the European wine regulation. It inclined the French Ministry of Agriculture to recourse to other experts in order to fit to Brussels’ demand in terms of expertise. Adaptation to Brussel’s orientation led the French Ministry of Agriculture to regain power over the experts in wine Law, and develop its own expertise to negotiate with the Commission. As it did, it also adapted the wine sector to European norms, and abandoned the specificity of its D.O. wines. Thus, the French Ministry of agriculture’s vote in 2007 took a radically different stance, as compared to the past.