May 29, 2005

Defeat? Dey stomp de grapes!

JUNE 9th UPDATE: Marc Jacotin, Consular assistant at the French Consular Agency in Seattle, will talk about the future of the Europeean Constitution after the « NO » votes by France and the Netherlands; Saturday, June 11th, at noon at Crepe de Paris. Contact the Alliance Francaise for reservations.

JUNE 8th UPDATE: Winemakers were the most vociferous French profession in their condemnation of the constitution. Decanter has an analysis.

France is voting today on the European Union's new charter. You'll read the results in Monday's papers. My guess: the no votes, fueled by protectionist, anti-globalization pessimists will win.

UPDATE: The referendum went down to crushing defeat.

UPDATE: Andree Chalm writes (in French) from her crowded polling station in Paris.

Rhone Cairanne w vines1.jpg

Just look at what's happening in the vineyards: unreported in the US press, a group called CRAV (Commitee Regionale d'Action Viticole) has been staging rallies across the Languedoc region in the south of France and, most recently, commando raids on corporate wineries. (Here's a video clip from French TV.)

What's it all about? Not terribly clear, any more than the WTO protests back in Seattle. The Languedoc region produces a third of all French wine, exports are down and the local wine growers want the government to do something about it. So, in the best "direct action" tradition, they've been vandalizing supermarkets, shooting up tanker trucks, attacking trains and draining the vats at the region's largest winery.

What the Languedoc vignerons don't want to admit is that their wine doesn't sell because it can't compete. Quality isn't all that high; price isn't all that low. And with the advent of cheaper wines from South America, the growers feel, well, squeezed. They want help, so they're stomping their feet like spoiled children.

Still, if French voters say "no" to the European Union's constitution, logic dictates that they'll say "yes" to the petulant growers. I'm not sure that it's going to solve the problem.

Posted by Ronald Holden at May 29, 2005 5:09 PM | TrackBack