The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) consists of two pillars, the first includes direct payments (i.e. annual payments to farmers to help stabilise farm revenues in the face of volatile market prices and weather conditions) and market measures (to tackle specific market situations and to support trade promotion); whereas the second pillar concerns rural development policy.
Agricultural policies are at the crossroads of several crucial aspects of European Union, (e.g. viable food production, sustainable management of natural resources, rural vitality), with a direct impact – according to the European Commission – on more than half of EU territory and EU consumers . In the EU, more than 7.3 million farmers are CAP direct payment beneficiaries and they manage more than 170 million hectares of agricultural land. At present, nearly 38% of the EU budget is spent on CAP – with €408.31 billion allocated to CAP for the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2014-2020, of which €308.72 billion is allocated to the first pillar (28.5%).