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Former wine lobbyists in French and German governments

Ex-wine lobbyists are employed at the heart of European governments.

Julia Klöckner, a former editor of the wine magazines ‘Weinwelt’ and ‘Sommelier’ is expected to become Germany’s next Minister of Food and Agriculture in Angela Merkel’s coalition government. Ms. Klöckner, from a vintner’s family, is currently Deputy Leader of the Christian Democrats. In 1995 she was elected German Wine Queen, a one-year position as a spokesperson for the wine industry.

Ms. Klöckner was a parliamentary undersecretary at the Ministry of Agriculture between 2009 and 2011. According to Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland, she will rise to the top of that ministry in the upcoming Grand Coalition, with such responsibilities as nutrition, product and food safety, innovation and EU policy in her portfolio.

In May 2017, 19 public health advocates sounded the alarm bell at the prospect of Audrey Bourolleau’s nomination to the Élysée. Her previous role as Delegate-General of Vin et Société was cited as a potential conflict of interests regarding public health. Eight months later, and these fears were confirmed when the wine sector lauded its ex-lobbyist for securing “something we had never received before”.

The European wine sector argues that its "specificity" should exempt it from regulations such as excise duty and nutritional labelling requirements. An influential wine lobby has seen wine producers granted unfair competitive advantages at the EU level. Inserting former lobbyists in European governments could worsen that problem. Politicians with such evident ties to the wine sector prompt concerns about their credibility when discussing food and agriculture.