The Common Agricultural Policy: Continuity and Change

The Common Agricultural Policy: Continuity and Change

The Common Agricultural Policy: Continuity and Change

The Common Agricultural Policy: Continuity and Change


This book is a major retrospective analysis of the CAP since its inception, set against the background of agricultural policy in Western Europe since the end of the Second World War. The topics covered include the development of the CAP, the struggle to introduce a structural policy and its subsequent unsatisfactory record, the uneasy relationship between market policy and trade policy, the question of agricultural incomes, and the broadening of policy horizons since the mid-1980s.


I was an undergraduate at university in Dublin when the European Economic Community came into being on 1 January 1958. in 1961 Ireland applied to join this new Community and, a few months later, the Minister for Agriculture set up a series of small teams to investigate the likely impact of membership of the Community on certain key agricultural processing industries. I was a member of the bacon and pigmeat industry team. We submitted our report at the end of 1962 and to the best of my knowledge none of our twenty-two recommendations was implemented: a salutary demonstration early in my career of the impact of economists on policy-makers! I was a member of the academic staff of Wye College in London University when, on 1 January 1973, Denmark, Ireland, and the United Kingdom finally joined the Community.

The existence of the European Community and, in particular of the Common Agricultural Policy, has been a central feature of my working life; similarly someone who entered farming in the 1960s and 1970s in the original six Member States and in the three which joined in 1973 has worked in a sector deeply influenced by the cap and any previous national policies were, by the 1990s, no more than a distant memory. Indeed, some of the people who entered farming in those early days of the policy may have already handed over the farm to a new generation.

Over its lifetime, the cap has had more than its fair share of attention--and certainly more than any other policy involved in the process of European integration. Among academic commentators and analysts, interest has been confined very largely to economists and, in particular, to agricultural economists. the only other academic group to show a keen interest in the cap are lawyers--not surprisingly because so many important decisions in the European Court of Justice have been made on issues arising from the implementation of the cap.

The neglect by other disciplines is surprising: the cap is one of the founding policies of the Community. It is also a very interesting policy because it is so comprehensive and touches not only economics and law but politics, history, sociology, international relations, and, no doubt, many more subject areas. One can only speculate as to the reason for this neglect. Perhaps an impression has been created that the cap is a very technical policy composed of masses of rules and regulations of interest only to those directly involved in its management. Perhaps, because so many of the policy instruments are concerned with markets and the manipulation of price, it has been perceived as an economic policy. Perhaps an increasingly urbanized population which knows little about farming and cares even less feels inhibited from entering an alien world as anything other than a tourist.

Whatever the reason, it is most unfortunate that the analysis of the cap has been left so largely in the hands of economists who, not unnaturally, have viewed the policy from their own particular perspective. When examining a policy or a . . .

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