Farming

CAP Reform

Rural sceneThe European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy provides financial support to farmers for a range of farming environmental and rural development activities as well as controlling EU agricultural markets.

Although important progress has been achieved recently in reforming the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), it remains the most visible and expensive common policy of the EU, but is increasingly out of step with the need for Europe to respond to the challenges of globalisation. Internationally, it continues to attract criticism, to create tensions in the EU’s relations with trading partners, and to impose significant costs on developing countries. Domestically, it imposes substantial costs on consumers and taxpayers but is inefficient in delivering support to farmers and promoting an attractive rural environment. Indeed much of the CAP still has a negative impact on the environment.

A Vision for the Common Agricultural Policy

This paper sets out a vision for the future of the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy. Its aim is to stimulate and help inform debate.

Although important progress has been achieved recently in reforming the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), it remains the most visible and expensive common policy of the EU, but is increasingly out of step with the need for Europe to respond to the challenges of globalisation. Internationally, it continues to attract criticism, to create tensions in the EU’s relations with trading partners, and to impose significant costs on developing countries. Domestically, it imposes substantial costs on consumers and taxpayers but is inefficient in delivering support to farmers and promoting an attractive rural environment. Indeed much of the CAP still has a negative impact on the environment.

The vision in this paper focuses on where we need to be in 10 to 15 years time, and why. It does not set out a route map for getting there. That must be the subject of debate across Europe.

  • Chapter 1 discusses what a sustainable model of European agriculture might look like.
  • Chapter 2 considers the CAP from a sustainable development perspective and sets out the economic, financial, social and environmental costs to the EU of the CAP.
  • Chapter 3 examines the scope for further reform of the CAP through a series of questions.
  • Chapter 4 sets out the international dimension and the impact of protectionism on developing countries.

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Page last modified: 27 September 2007
Page published: 20 July 2004

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs