Romain Schneider is not only Minister for Agriculture, Viticulture and Rural Development. His remit also includes social security. Needless to say, his schedule is extremely busy at the moment. However, he still has time for winemakers.
Romain Schneider often points out that he is the only minister in Europe (and no doubt the world) whose job title specifically mentions the word “viticulture”. It is clear that this is by no means an add-on for him. He is fully committed to the role and fulfils it with pride. “Wine is an ancient tradition in Luxembourg. It is an emblematic product that plays an important role in our society. I see it as a commodity with significant cultural value rather than a luxury good,” he assures Vinorama.
Does that still apply during periods as difficult as the one we are currently experiencing? “In times of crisis, we must always maintain our values,” he emphasises. That’s why winemakers were immediately allowed to continue working despite the lockdown. “It is vital for them to operate as normally as possible. They just have to follow the standard rules such as social distancing of at least two metres, avoiding contact, etc.,” he explains.
Although the economic repercussions of the lockdown are still difficult to assess, wine estates are all eligible for measures introduced to support businesses: “there are approximately 300 wine companies in Luxembourg, half of which employ staff, and they are obviously covered by these instruments managed by the Ministry for the Economy.”
Although he has more than enough on his plate with everyday management of the situation, the minister is still keen to look to the future in a positive way. “We have to get our heads together now to ensure we are ready when the economy is revived, so the entire sector can recover optimally from this difficult period,” he asserts. “Although I am not yet entirely focused on the aftermath, as Minister for agriculture and viticulture, it is always at the back of my mind.”