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Contribution of Jean-Paul BACHY - AREV International Congress - Grand Duchy of Luxembourg - 8-9 May 2014


	
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05/27/2014 | arev

 

AREV International Congress   

Grand Duchy of Luxembourg

8-9 May 2014 Contribution of Jean-Paul BACHY

President of the AREV

I would like to welcome you all to Luxembourg!

This country has always been considered to be at the very heart of Europe and its history. It is also the headquarters of several European institutions. 

Welcome on this 9th of May. This date was not selected at random. On the 9th of May 1950, Robert Schuman, then French Minister for Foreign Affairs, at the instigation of Jean Monnet, the Commissioner for Planning, proposed the creation of a European Coal and Steel Community. This act clearly indicated the will of these countries, which had fought 3 wars, to achieve reconciliation and work together to construct the future of their economies.    

This appeal was issued to all countries wishing to participate. It was the first founding act of the European Union. We are commemorating the anniversary of this event today.   

Thank you to all our friends from  Luxembourg  who have welcomed us so warmly, starting with Aly Leonardy, the first Vice President of the AREV, as well as all those who have assisted him in organising this congress.

Thank you to all the delegates here present. They come from 14 countries, which bears ample witness to their great diversity.

Thank you to all the individuals who have agreed to participate in our work, Mr Etgen, the Luxembourg Minister of Agriculture, Robert Ley, Director of the Vine and Wine Institute,  Mr Juban, Assistant Director of the OIV, and Florence Rojal, who represents the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).            

I would also like to thank Astrid Lulling, President of the European Parliament’s wine intergroup, for her presence here. We pay tribute to her during this congress for the significant work she has accomplished over more than 25 years in the defence of European wine production.           

As this session opens, Europe is at the centre of our preoccupations. The CAP reform has begun; the elections to the European Parliament will take place in a matter of days; commercial negotiations between Europe and the USA are initiated. More than ever before, the defence and promotion of the European wine-producing regions is at the top of the agenda. Our collective commitment, the weight of our arguments, supported by the conclusions of the report by Professor Montaigne, have enabled us to avoid the worst, to weaken the dogmatism of the ultra liberals and to make the Brussels Commission see sense. We have not been alone in this struggle. Many organisations and parliamentarians have stood by our side.                             

We have succeeded in maintaining, in principle, the system of controlling production rights, which effectively guarantee quality, the wine appellations. But we must remain vigilant regarding the clarification of the rules of application and the delegated acts. This is especially true regarding two specific points:

  • We have taken care to avoid creating any divergences between producers and vintners. Controlling the market does not mean excessive conservatism and blocking all evolution. The essential thing is to manage intelligently. We must in any case continue to exercise pressure on the European Commission.                          
  • Consultative technical groups will be created. The AREV must participate in these. The differences of opinion which we have had in the past with certain Commission functionaries may lead them to wish to exclude the political representatives from our regions. But the AREV has a professional association, and its members have a legitimate role to play in these technical groups. This is what we intend to ask of Commissioner Ciolos.

The priority given to the problems associated with the regulation of the internal European market has until now distracted us somewhat from the need to establish our position in another currently pressing debate: the USA/EUROPE free trade negotiations. Here too, firmness is required. It is essential for the future of European wine-making and agriculture. The paradox with the USA is that the self-proclaimed champion of free trade is in fact one of the most protectionist countries in the world. Added to this is the systematic application of unfair practices. It is absolutely unacceptable that the Americans should be allowed to fraudulently profit from the traditional European wine descriptions and appellations. Without wishing to make unfounded accusations or block the negotiations, it is nevertheless time for us to clearly mark our territory.         

This is the subject of the resolution submitted to you by the committee. It has the support of the CEPV (European Wine Trade Council). I hope that you will give it your full support and that it will be unanimously adopted. I also hope that we can distribute it more widely to our governments, national parliamentarians and the future elected members of the European Parliament.            

Our internal work must continue, in particular regarding three subjects:

  • A number of diseases are currently poisoning the life of our vineyards, including flavescence dorée. The CEPV has been involved in long talks on this subject. The AREV must create the conditions for an exchange of practices in order to more effectively harmonise the measures adopted to combat and prevent the disease.
  • We must also continue to promote sustainable viticulture, which is respectful of the environment. This also involves innovative projects to promote the by-products of the wine industry. Systematic distillation or the exclusive use of by-products for the natural fertilisation of the soil; the choice should not be so rigid. Many other forms of promotion and development exist, in cosmetics, the pharmaceutical industry, the development of renewable energies, etc… we must continue working on this.
  • Steep slope viticulture: the CEPV has decided to entrust this dossier to Vice President Ettore Ponzo. I know that it is in more than capable hands.                                       

 

Dear colleagues,

I have been presiding over this assembly for 6 years. I hope that I have proven myself to be worthy of this considerable responsibility. I had hoped to relinquish my duties on the occasion of this congress, firstly due to the uncertainties in the electoral calendar in France, and secondly because renewal is always useful.  Unfortunately, no other colleagues have declared their candidacy. Subject to your approval, I therefore agree to temporarily continue my mandate. I have the three following short-term objectives:                                          

  • It is essential to finally equip European viticulture and your regions with a reliable tool for analysis and market monitoring.

 We have made a proposal to Commissioner Ciolos for the creation of a European wine observatory. For the moment we have received no reply from him. Perhaps we were not sufficiently insistent or specific in our request.  This will therefore have to be repeated. There is nothing stopping us, moreover, from questioning the representatives of our governments at the OIV and requesting access to the information at their disposal. Regarding the OIV, in accordance with the mandate you gave me, our contribution as an observer will be reduced by half from 2015 onwards - which was the goal. We must now find new means to work effectively with the OIV, and this will imply greater involvement on our part.                                                     

  • We have also decided, over the past 3 years, to commit ourselves to serious reflection on the matter of wine tourism.            

The current situation has been analysed, and the result highlights considerable disparity, both in terms of the infrastructure and the organisation within our member regions. Starting from this observation, we wanted to look further, and establish what tools could be used in order to more effectively promote our wines and our territories. The stakes here are more global. AREV’s strategy has always been defensive, and can be summed up in the following question: how can we protect the European wine market against the great tide of ultra-liberalism? For this we need to be more offensive. We have equipped ourselves with the tools for protection. Do we also want to equip ourselves with the tools for promotion? We must face facts: the battles fought and won to preserve the rules of the European market have not stopped us from losing ground. Over the past 15 years, Europe’s share of the global wine market has dropped from 60% to barely 50%. We must draw the necessary conclusions and face the consequences. Faced with the ever-evolving modes of wine consumption and competition from new wine-producing countries, European viticulture is in desperate need of an image and an identity. Our wines are unique, and our regions are unique. But the word needs to be spread, because many of our regions are still relatively unknown on the big promising markets on the other side of the world. It will undoubtedly be necessary for the AREV to go to Brussels and remind the Commission members of their duties on a regularly basis. But it must also be understood that the stakes have now become global. The battle is no longer simply being fought within Europe. It is no longer purely legal. The battle is now being fought through lobbying, through marketing, and though communication. What image do we want to give to our European wines? What is it that makes them special? What are our specific values? If we want to sell more, what are our arguments, what are the particular assets of our European wines that set them apart from the wines of the New World? Is the “every man for himself” attitude an appropriate response? Could developing tourism within our territories to more effectively spread the message of our diversity, our landscapes and our heritage represent a solution?      

The AREV may not have the capacity to bear its own label or seal of approval, which is first and foremost a tool for monitoring and regulatory conformity. But I believe that it can and should provide its members with a platform, and promotional and marketing tools enabling them to raise their profile and make themselves better known both to their customers and the public at large. Very few of our vineyards can boast world-wide renown. Should we be content with this situation? Isn’t the goal of the AREV to raise our members’ profile, by helping them to create their own brand image, based firmly on the value of the heritage of their unique territory? This is the task and question that was entrusted to the Outremer consultancy team by the wine tourism commission and the AREV committee, on the 08/05/2014 in Remich

  • Being stronger, extending the influence of the AREV and opening its doors even wider… this is the 3rd goal I want to share with you. Let us remain clear-headed, the budgetary constraints and the paucity of public funding mean that our members are now paying heavier contributions than ever, and some regions are struggling. We must remobilise them. But I am also convinced that there are many regions that are now ready to join us. This is especially true in the countries that have recently joined the EU or are currently preparing to join. I suggest that we set ourselves the goal of recruiting 10 new regions to our ranks over the coming year.             

Due to internal political circumstances, the Balkan regions were unable to hold the meeting in Vojvodina that had been planned at the beginning of the year, and we will have to retake the initiative.  

             

They say that Europe is in recession. It’s true that Europe is not shielded from the imbalances that currently torment the rest of the world. But the construction of Europe remains a vision and a goal that is well worth fighting for.  If Europe were so bad, why would so many countries still wish to join it? But what kind of Europe do we want? We surely don’t want an economic jungle from which only the big multinationals profit, nor do we want a Europe of technocrats who are ever increasingly cut off from the day-to-day problems of the populations. The Europe we want is a Europe of democracy, of decentralisation, of regions. It is the Europe of youth, of creation, of information… But it is also a Europe of unique lands and territories, of quality of life, of a heritage that has been handed down over the centuries. Wine, as we all know, has been a symbol and bearer of civilisation since Greek and Roman times. Now it is up to the AREV to bear this message. This message is not only charged with history. It is above all a message charged with the future.

 

Jean-Paul BACHY

President of the AREV

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