- Ann-Christina L. Knudsen
This chapter examines the common agricultural policy (CAP) in the context of political rather than economic terms. It first provides an overview of the development of the European agricultural welfare state, explaining why and how agriculture was able to claim and uphold a special position in Europe. It then considers CAP's achievements and unintended consequences and cites financial pressure as a strong incentive for CAP reform in the early 1990s, as was the pernicious international impact of the policy. It shows how concerns about the environment and food safety, and about the possible impact of European Union enlargement into Central and Eastern Europe, maintained the momentum for reform. Given the broad political commitment to supporting farm incomes, and sustaining a viable countryside in the EU, however, the chapter suggests that CAP is likely to endure in some form or other.