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Cover Politics in the European Union

21. Agriculture  

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.