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Message from the President


	
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Inaugural speech by President Emiliano Garcia-Page Sanchez

Plenary Session – Strasbourg – 11th of July 2017

Thank you all very much for your confidence. As I said this morning at the Committee meeting, for anyone called to present himself to the citizens’ vote, it is unimaginable to be able to be elected by acclamation. This does not exist in the normal regional elections. A huge thank you for having allowed this type of election and for having elected me, which commits me even further to ensuring that I am equal to the task of heading up an institution as important as AREV.                                 

Allow me first of all to congratulate someone, whom I believe it is not an exaggeration to say, in addition to being both the strategist and backbone of the organisation for many years, has also been an essential part of its soul. I would like, on behalf of each and every one of us, and as my first act as President, to thank Dominique Janin for his commitment. Thank you very much indeed!

Those who have experience in terms of public management and organisations, beyond our own sector, know just how important it is to have, throughout successive mandates, both consistency in the work and great professionalism in the type of post that Dominique Janin has held, and which will now be taken on by someone who also possesses an extremely high level of competence.                   

So thank you for the confidence you have shown by electing me as President, with the team accompanying me, and for allowing me to assume the presidency of this organisation, especially after the endorsement of the modification of the statutes. Thank you on behalf of Castilla-La Mancha, its 85,000 winegrowers and its approximately 600 cooperative wineries and merchants. It is a region with over 2 million inhabitants, who are all well aware that winemaking is a fundamental and strategic sector, a sector that is crucial for thousands of jobs, service providers, winegrowing businesses, and gastronomy, as well as the numerous popular celebrations that mark the year after the harvests.                                         

I will take on this presidency with the same sense of responsibility as I did for my own region. It is a region that has been producing wine for over three millennia, and which has always put all its passion, effort and expertise into making wine the authentic lifeblood of our land, and which has made its vineyards its spiritual and emotional heart. Wine has shaped our landscapes and our calendar, as well as our gastronomy, it has impregnated our literature, accompanied our very first libations, and all the stages of our lives. It is the backbone of our economy and has become our visiting card throughout the entire world.                           

For this region, which is home to the largest winegrowing area in the world in terms of acreage, it will be a great honour to play host to AREV’s next plenary session and to share with all the current members and with the future member regions the goals that are common to all the winemaking regions of Europe, as diverse as they are, but which are precisely the raison d’être of this magnificent organisation.

I will therefore be taking on this presidency with the conviction that making wine also contributes to building Europe. Indeed, wines and vines have also contributed over the centuries to uniting the different peoples of Europe, peoples who have quarrelled and made war amongst themselves, but who, after the exchanges of wines and the love of wine culture, have always managed to retain their own identities and their unity in diversity.                        

Europe, as a whole, is the world’s largest producer of wine. France, Spain and Italy alone produce 50 percent of all the wine produced on the planet, and represent 32 percent of the world’s wine-producing area. According to an international study, global wine production saw a drop of 5 percent in 2016, to one of the lowest levels recorded over the past twenty years, below the average of the last five years, and well below the historic peak of 289 million hectolitres produced in 2013. Europe has not escaped this trend, but nor is it shielded from the changes in wine-drinking habits.                                                                                                                

Admittedly, Europe continues to be the world’s number one consumer of wine, followed by the United States and China, but European wine consumption is not uniform as a whole. All of this must encourage us to work on improving consumption in general and in increasing exports to non-member countries.                                          

But to achieve this, we must maintain the durability of the national aid programmes to the viticulture sector. We must therefore be extremely vigilant in ensuring that the Brexit negotiations, with their foreseeable reduction to the European budget, do not negatively impact on financial funding over the coming years. We will need to follow this process closely and provide our support to the Commission when this is necessary, but we will also need to make it understand the needs and worries of the sector with regard to forthcoming reforms, both to the CAP and to the organisation of the wine market.

For AREV, it is therefore essential to work in Brussels and from Brussels: this is one of the points that I confirmed in my letter of application, as the plenary session in Lednice had decided.   

Furthermore, I wish to assure you of my firm intention of observing what I believe to be the principles of sound governance.  

Firstly, the principle of close collaboration, which will be consistent, fair and flowing between all the parties involved. This concerns all the member regions of AREV, both between themselves and with the President and the Secretary General. Similarly, collaboration will also be strengthened with all the representatives of AREV.

Next, the principle of visibility, without which social recognition is impossible to achieve.  We must ensure that we have weight and influence in politics and in European policy. It is crucial that the whole of society is perfectly aware of the work carried out by AREV, not just the work undertaken in favour of the European winemaking regions, but also the positive consequences of our actions for the whole of society.              

Thirdly, the principle of transparency, in such a way that the members of AREV and society as a whole can, at any moment and with fully informed knowledge, judge the work carried out by this presidency and this association.                     

Fourthly, the principle of subsidiarity, which is so important for the European regions: independently of the varying degrees of decentralisation in our respective countries, we must not forget that AREV unites numerous regions from different countries, including members whose winemaking region coincides with a State. We, the regional governments present here, thanks to our close proximity to our citizens and our deep knowledge of the winemaking sector, are best placed to understand our needs, the challenges we have to face, and how to tackle them.                       

All these principles are much more than a simple declaration of intention. They are a firm commitment made to and with the European winemakers, and for the regions that consider wine as the fundamental basis of their way of being, living and prospering. The challenge is a significant one, but we can meet it. We must defend European wines, their image of quality and the guarantee of their quality thanks to their patiently developed specifications. The wines of Old Europe, unlike those of the large-scale New World producers, implicitly bear the weight of history and the know-how of numerous generations.                                                                  

Against a background of progressive liberalisation of the food sector on a worldwide level, in the framework of the World Trade Organisation, the defence of the intellectual property of our wines and our labels guaranteeing their quality faced with our trading partners represents a genuine red line, and we must assist the European Commission in defending this as far as we possibly can. On this basis, we must provide as much help as we can to our export sector, since there are many European wines that deserve to be recognised on the world stage and that can effectively compete on the important markets such as the United States, China and Asia-Pacific.                  

It is essential to effectively deploy a system to represent and defend the interests of the European winemaking regions. For this purpose, the transfer of AREV’s headquarters to Brussels will be extremely useful. I intend to increase the visibility of the European winemaking regions, and with them, their specific weight in the ever-increasingly complex process of decision-making between the European institutions, placing the emphasis on the Commission, Parliament, and the Committee of the Regions.                             

It is only by throwing all of our considerable weight into the conception of the policies and regulations that govern us that we will be able to effectively represent and defend the interests of the regions and the sector. I believe this to be the very heart of our strategy. This is why I want to set out the principal strategic goals that Castilla-La Mancha wishes to achieve:  

The most important issue is undoubtedly the CAP. We must collaborate in the design of a CAP that ensures the compatibility of the production and economic revenue of the wine sector with environmental preservation and biodiversity, an issue which we cannot abandon, as well as with adaptation to and the fight against climate change. Directly related to the CAP, and this is extremely important, it is necessary to have a well thought out and reasonable water resource policy. This is not the case in all the regions, but some of AREV’s member regions are threatened by scarcity of these resources. In this area, AREV has much to offer.                                           

Regarding the commercial policy of the European Union, I refer back to what I said earlier on the need to collaborate with the European Commission concerning the protection of consumers and the subject of health. AREV must also assert its point of view. Science has now proved the health benefits of moderate and responsible wine consumption. Agriculture, rural development and the environment, as the Minister of Agriculture for my region has pointed out, are a vital and unique equation.                                                                       

Lastly, AREV must play an active role in the integral development of its constituent regions. To achieve this, no area is perhaps more suitable than that of rural development. Viticulture and wine can provide crucial support to the development of activities such as wine tourism, which offers clear prospects and opportunities for growth.                            

The stakes are numerous. Europe must continue to work to convince the citizens of the Union that there is much more to gain in a united Europe than outside of it. This goal must cement this general idea, with work to coordinate between the regions and professional sectors having common interests. Wine in Europe offers us a great many reasons to think in terms of unity, since there is considerable scope for consolidation and growth, in production, in consumption, on the market and in economic value.                                                       

I would like to end by stating that AREV must not lose sight of its own value and its own potential. Europe alone represents 45 percent of the world’s wine-producing area, and respectively 65 and 57 percent of worldwide production and consumption, as well as 70 percent of global wine exports. These figures speak for themselves, and provide us with clear evidence both of our value and our potential. We are a power which can and must improve the coordination and clarification of our goals and respect the wealth of our incredible diversity. We must unceasingly progress, continue to invest, and continue to convince the institutions of the socioeconomic importance of European winemaking. This is the challenge we face, this is our goal, it is within our reach, and it is what I intend to make the guiding thread of my term in office.                                                                                             

 

Emiliano Garcia-Page Sanchez

President of AREV

 

Plenary Session – Strasbourg – 11th of July 2017