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This chapter examines the European Union’s (EU’s) policy on agriculture. The importance that the EU has given to the agricultural sector can be attributed in large part to food shortages at the end of the Second World War. Governments agreed that it was important to ensure adequate supplies of food at reasonable prices. To achieve this, it was necessary to provide an adequate income to farmers, while taking measures to increase their productivity. The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) was the first redistributive policy of the European Community, and for many years the only one. The chapter reviews the history of the CAP and explains the main drivers for reform, which include costs, EU enlargement, environmental pressures, and the growing powers of the European Parliament. Another key driver for change has stemmed from external pressure from world trade talks. The chapter concludes by reviewing the prospects for the next iteration of the CAP from 2021–27.


Michelle Cini and Nieves Pérez-Solórzano Borragán

This chapter comprises a very brief introduction to European Union (EU) politics. It aims to help those students who are completely new to the EU by drawing attention to some general (background) information and context which helps to make sense of the chapters that follow. To that end the chapter begins by questioning whether the EU is ‘in crisis’. It goes on to reflect on what the EU is, why it was originally set up, who has and can join, who pays (and how much), what the EU does, and what role citizens play in the EU. The chapter ends by explaining how the book is organized.


Nicole Curato

This chapter introduces the theory and practice of democratic innovations, such as citizen-initiated referendums, participatory budgeting, and citizens’ assemblies. It characterizes what makes these approaches innovative and distinctly democratic by situating them in the traditions of direct, participatory, and deliberative democracy. The chapter critically examines the purpose and limits of democratic innovations, presents debates on how these approaches are being applied and institutionalized around the world, provides examples and case studies of democratic innovations from around the world, and concludes by putting forward provocative questions on what it means for citizens to meaningfully take part in democratic decision-making in contemporary times.


9. The Budget  

Who Gets What, When, and How?

Brigid Laffan and Johannes Lindner

This chapter examines the European Union’s budgetary procedures with an eye towards elucidating the characteristics of budgetary politics and policy-making. Where EU money comes from, how it is spent, and the processes by which it is distributed are the subjects of intense political bargaining. Budgets matter politically, because money represents the commitment of resources to the provision of public goods and involves political choices across sectors and regions. The chapter first provides a thumbnail sketch of the EU budget before looking at the major players involved in the budgetary process. It then considers budgetary politics over time, focusing on two phases, one dominated by budgetary battles and the other by ordered budgetary decision-making, and shedding light on the EU’s large-scale budgetary response to the Covid-19 pandemic which marks an important step within the evolution of the EU budget. Finally, the chapter also provides an assessment of how the EU manages a larger budget.


This chapter examines the revival of European integration from the mid-1970s to the late 1980s. It first considers leadership changes in the European Commission before turning to the European Council and the European Monetary System (EMS), the Commission’s southern enlargements, and the British budget rebate. It then discusses leadership changes in the Commission from 1981 to 1982, the Single European Act (SEA), and the European Council meeting at Fontainebleau in June 1984. It also looks at the initiatives of various Commission presidents such as Roy Jenkins, Gaston Thorn, and Jacques Delors. Finally, it describes the implementation of the SEA, widely seen as the big breakthrough in the revival of European integration.


10. Cohesion Policy  

Doing More with Less

John Bachtler and Carlos Mendez

European Union cohesion policy accounts for a major share of the EU budget and aims to reduce economic, social, and territorial disparities through investment programmes and projects aligned with EU strategic objectives and implemented under a unique model of multi-level governance. This chapter reviews the evolution of cohesion policy over successive reform phases, how the policy is implemented, and the evidence for its effectiveness. It also discusses the different policy modes encompassed in the policy, and it reviews recent political developments relating to politicization, Brexit, the sectoralization of EU spending, and the implications of the Covid-19 pandemic. The chapter concludes that the resourcing, priorities, and governance of cohesion policy for 2021–27 represent a new turning point in the prospects for the policy, following the strategic turns of 2006 and 2013 (Bachtler et al. 2013). While the budget for cohesion policy remains substantial, the policy’s importance is diminishing as a result of greater centralization of political decision-making within the Commission, a fragmentation of the political constituencies for cohesion policy, and the dominance of non-spatial EU policy priorities with centralized delivery mechanisms.