Written by James McEldowney,
Over the years, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has been subject to several reforms. Often described as being incremental in nature, these reforms have progressively resulted in significant changes in both the orientation and architecture of the CAP. Key changes have included a reorientation away from price support towards income support and a decoupling of support from production. The current system of direct payments provides a mechanism for farmers to provide a combination of both private and public goods. The latter element has been reinforced by measures aimed at ‘greening’ the CAP. Rural development policy, reformed along with the CAP in 2013, is now implemented through rural development legislation covering six strategic priorities sub-divided into 18 focus areas, offering greater flexibility in the choice of measures used.
Set against this background, this briefing considers how some of the CAP’s policy instruments have been working, based on the experience of their implementation to date, including commentaries on both the previous reforms and the current policy, and taking account of the most recent evaluation evidence available. The implications of this broad overview for the orientation and architecture of the post-2020 CAP are examined. This discussion is set within the context of the main challenges facing agriculture and the rural economy, such as climate change, food security, territorial cohesion and price volatility. This analysis is timely, as the European Commission’s work programme for 2017 includes provision for consulting widely and progressing with work on the simplification and modernisation of the CAP.
Read the complete briefing on ‘CAP policy instruments: Issues and challenges for EU agricultural policy‘.