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Cover European Union Politics

23. The Common Agricultural Policy  

Ève Fouilleux and Viviane Gravey

This chapter examines one of the first European policies, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). It does so by focusing on the policy’s objectives, instruments, actors, and debates. It looks at the way in which the CAP has evolved since the 1960s, and attempts to explain this evolution by asking and answering a number of important questions: why has the CAP been so problematic for European policy-makers? Why has it proven so resistant to change? Given the constraints identified, how has reform come about? This chapter also looks at some of the challenges facing agricultural policy, as new debates emerge among citizens on the place and the functions performed by agriculture. The chapter grants particular attention to the way the CAP tackles issues such as rural development, relations between agriculture, food and the environment, transparency, and social equity.