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How France is fighting to save its struggling wine industry

The French government recently announced an ambitious research programme as part of its plan to fight for the survival of its declining vineyards. Here's a look at the reason behind the project.

How France is fighting to save its struggling wine industry
Photo: AFP
For any wine fans out there, it may come as a surprise that something so synonymous with France is battling to survive. 
French wine is loved around the world and France – one of the world's largest producers – makes around 8 million bottles a year.
But environmental factors such as climate change, as well as biological problems, such as viruses, fungi and bacteria, industry practices and economic constraints have all led to a serious decline in production at French vineyards, with experts saying the situation becoming increasingly dire over the past few decades. 
However, plans are afoot to save the pride and joy of the French agricultural industry.  
The “Plan National Dépérissement du vignoble” (National Plan for the Decline of Vineyards) is a concerted effort on behalf of the industry and the French government to help the ailing wine sector. 
Photo: AFP
The project will see a total investment of €10.5 million over the course of three years (between 2017 and 2020). 
Launched by the CNIV, which groups together the various professions of the French wine industry, France's public agricultural authority FranceAgriMer and the Ministy of Agriculture, the plan has four main goals. 
One is “to give winemakers the key to limit the decline, taking into account their economic constraints”, another is to “work with plant nurseries to find natural ways to reinvigorate vineyards”.
The third is to improve preparation for crises and the final goal is to carry out a national and Europe-wide research programme to find ways of solving the problems in the wine industry. 
In short, the organisations behind the plan are hoping to find solutions on how to improve the vines themselves, the quality of the original plants, their longevity and protection against viruses. 
The seven projects recently announced by the French government are part of this nationwide research and include investigations into the effect of wood disease on a vine, research on the effect of vine decay on grape production and the effect of fungus growth on vines, among others. 
Did you know? What exactly goes into a bottle of French wine (apart from grapes)Photo: AFP
A total of €1.65 million has been granted for the projects which will be launched in the second half of 2019 and take place over three and a half years.
But what does the future hold for an industry looks as if it is set to be increasingly affected by climate change and other factors?
“It's not just a problem of climate change but also of bacteria diseases affecting the wood of the vines and insects destroying the plants,” Jérôme Agostini, director of the CNIV, previously told The Local.
“This is a long term project but vines last 35 years so it's worth investing in them,” he said. 
“People whose work depends on nature are used to adapting to it almost on an annual basis. I think the current problems are something that can be overcome.”

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For members


What changes in France in July 2022

Summer's here and the time is right for national celebrations, traffic jams, strikes, Paris beaches, and ... changing the rules for new boilers.

What changes in France in July 2022

Summer holidays

The holiday season in France officially begins on Thursday, July 7th, as this is the date when school’s out for the summer. The weekend immediately after the end of the school year is expected to be a busy one on the roads and the railways as families start heading off on vacation.

READ ALSO 8 things to know about driving in France this summer


But it wouldn’t really be summer in France without a few strikes – airport employees at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports will walk out on July 1st, while SNCF rail staff will strike on July 6th. Meanwhile Ryanair employees at Paris, Marseille and Toulouse airports will strike on yet-to-be-confirmed dates in July.

READ ALSO How strikes and staff shortages will affect summer in France

Parliamentary fireworks?

Prime minister Elisabeth Borne will present the government’s new programme in parliament on July 5th – this is expected to be a tricky day for the Macron government, not only does it not have the parliamentary majority that it needs to pass legislation like the new package of financial aid to help householders deal with the cost-of-living crisis, but opposition parties have indicated that they will table a motion of no confidence against Borne.

Parliament usually breaks for the summer at the end of July, but a special extended session to allow legislation to be passed means that MPs won’t get to go on holiday until at least August 9th. 

Fête nationale

July 14th is a public holiday in France, commemorating the storming of the Bastille which was the symbolic start of the French Revolution. As usual, towns and cities will host parades and fireworks – with the biggest military parade taking place on the Champs-Elysées in Paris – and many stores will remain closed.

As the national holiday falls on a Thursday this year, many French workers will take the opportunity to faire le pont.

Festival season really kicks in

You know summer’s here when France gets festival fever, with events in towns and cities across the country. You can find our pick of the summer celebrations here.

Paris Plages

The capital’s popular urban beaches return on July 9th on the banks of the Seine and beside the Bassin de la Villette in northern Paris, bringing taste of the seaside to the capital with swimming spots, desk chairs, beach games and entertainment.  

Summer sales end 

Summer sales across most of the country end on July 19th – unless you live in Alpes-Maritimes, when they run from July 6th to August 2nd, or the island of Corsica (July 13th to August 9th).

Tour de France

The Tour de France cycle race sets off on July 1st from Copenhagen and finishes up on the Champs-Elysée in Paris on July 24th.

New boilers

From July 1st, 2022, new equipment installed for heating or hot water in residential or professional buildings, must comply with a greenhouse gas emissions ceiling of 300 gCO2eq/KWh PCI. 

That’s a technical way of saying oil or coal-fired boilers can no longer be installed. Nor can any other type of boiler that exceeds the ceiling.

As per a decree published in the Journal Officiel in January, existing appliances can continue to be used, maintained and repaired, but financial aid of up to €11,000 is planned to encourage their replacement. 

Bike helmets

New standards for motorbike helmets come into effect from July 1st. Riders do not need to change their current helmets, but the “ECE 22.05” standard can no longer be issued – and all helmets sold must adhere to a new, more stringent “ECE 22.06” standards from July 2024

New cars

From July 6th new car models must be equipped with a black box that record driving parameters such as speed, acceleration or braking phases, wearing (or not) of a seat belt, indicator use, the force of the collision or engine speed, in case of accidents.

New cars II

From July 1st, the ecological bonus for anyone who buys an electric vehicle drops by €1,000, while rechargeable hybrids will be excluded from the aid system, “which will be reserved for electric vehicles whose CO2 emission rate is less than or equal to 20g/km”.

What’s in a name?

Historically, the French have been quite restrictive on the use of family names – remember the concern over the use of birth names on Covid vaccine documents? – but it becomes easier for an adult to choose to bear the name of his mother, his father, or both by a simple declaration to the civil status. All you have to do is declare your choice by form at the town hall of your home or place of birth.

Eco loans

In concert with the new boiler rules, a zero-interest loan of up to €30,000 to finance energy-saving renovations can be combined with MaPrimeRénov’, a subsidy for financing the same work, under certain conditions, from July 1st.

Rent rules

Non-professional private landlords advertising properties for rent must, from July 1st, include specific information about the property on the ad, including the size of the property in square metres, the area of town in which the property is in, the monthly rent and any supplements, whether the property is in a rent-control area, and the security deposit required. Further information, including the full list of requirements for any ad, is available here.

Perfume ban

More perfumes are to be added to a banned list for products used by children, such as soap-making kits, cosmetic sets, shampoos, or sweet-making games, or toys that have an aroma.

Atranol, chloroatranol (extracts of oak moss containing tannins), and methyl carbonate heptin, which smells like violets, will be banned from July 5th, because of their possible allergenic effects.

Furthermore, 71 new allergenic fragrances – including camphor, menthol, vanilin, eucalyptus spp. leaf oil, rose flower oil, lavendula officinalis, turpentine – will be added to the list of ingredients that must be clearly indicated on a toy or on an attached label.

Ticket resto limits

The increased ticket resto limit ended on June 30th, so from July 1st employees who receive the restaurant vouchers will once again be limited to spending €19 per day in restaurants, cafés and bars. The limit was increased to €38 during the pandemic, when workers were working from home.