A little history
The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is one of the oldest policies of the European Union: was born in 1962! Its aim: to strengthen the competitiveness and the sustainability of agriculture and rural areas across the European Union. Due to its long history it has been reformed to adapt its objectives to the changing needs of society on many occasions.
The CAP has moved from food shortage to plenty and from market support to producer support; has widened to include rural development; has opened to the world (the EU is becoming the world’s largest importer of agricultural products from developing countries) and has met the new challenges of sustainability and protecting the environment.
The current programming period runs until end of 2013 in parallel with the EU 7-year budgetary cycle.
The new legislative package for 2014-2020 is almost ready…
The new legislative package responds to the economic, environmental and territorial challenges Europe faces today. It was published by the European Commission in October 2011. Since then the Trilogue (European Parliament, Council and European Commission) have been in negotiation over the provisions, and the new regulations will finally be adopted by the end of this year.
The CAP is about food
Thanks to the CAP, European citizens enjoy safe, affordable and good quality food products. Agriculture plays an important role as the first step in the food supply chain. Promoting local agriculture and short supply chains (to be published this afternoon) is one of the six priorities of the Rural Development Programmes 2014-2020.
The CAP also has an educational component and the School Programmes in the area of Agriculture (come back to see this tomorrow morning) – the European School Milk and the European School Fruit Scheme are intended to encourage healthy eating habits among children. After 2013 the CAP will include a number of changes aimed at improving the effectiveness of both school schemes.
The CAP is about rural diversity
Rural areas cover more than half the EU’s territory and nearly a quarter of its population live there. Hence, the CAP deals with rural areas, mountain and isolated regions and the communities who live in them and delivers financial support to safeguard their farming economy and to promote rural employment and entrepreneurship.
The CAP is about environment
Farming is important for the EU’s natural environment and has contributed to creating and providing the habitat for a rich diversity of fauna and flora. In this context, the CAP aims at preserving landscapes, the biodiversity, genetic resources for food and agriculture, seeds and plant reproductive material and provides incentives to farmers to practice sustainable agriculture. Managing water resources is also crucial for protecting the environment: the CAP supports investments to improve irrigation infrastructures and techniques and to protect water quality.
The CAP is about farmers
The EU farming population doubled with the entry of 10 new Member States in 2004 and 2 new Member States in 2007. Small farmers represent a third of farmers and two thirds are over 55 years. The CAP after 2013 will simplify administrative procedures for small farmers and will support young farmers to set up business by offering additional payments.
The CAP is about animal welfare
Safe food can only come from healthy and well-kept animals. EU animal welfare regulations have been introduced to protect animals on the farm and during transportation. Cross-compliance rules under the CAP establish that farmers who do not comply with certain requirements in the area of animal welfare (among others) are subject to reductions of or exclusion from direct support.
For your eyes only
If you happen to work at the European Parliament or for an MEP’s office, you have access to further Library information sources to keep up-to-date on agriculture and rural development issues:
Visit our Policy Area Page on Agriculture and Rural Development. Up-to-date selected papers and reports from institutions ranging from governments to universities and think tanks. Some examples:
CAP and EU Trade Policy Reform: assessing impact on developing countries / LEI Wageningen, 2013
Agriculture, forêt, climat: vers des stratégies d’adaptation / Julien Vert… (et al.). Ministère de l’Agriculture, de l’Agroalimentaire et de la Forêt. Centre d’études et de prospective, 2013
Have the Member States and the Commission achieved value for money with the measures for diversifying the rural economy? / European Court of Auditors (2013)