Institutions in Crisis

Institutions in Crisis

European Perspectives on the Recession

New Thinking in Political Economy series

Edited by David Howden

This critical and thought-provoking book explores the causes and consequences of Europe’s failed political and economic institutions. Europe’s recession has created new challenges as market turmoil has shaken the foundations of the twin pillars of the new drive for European integration – political and monetary unions. This book critically assesses the patchwork solutions continually offered to hold the troubled unions together. Failed political policies, from the prodigious ‘Common Agricultural Policy’ to ever more common fiscal stimulus packages, are shown to have bred less than stellar results in the past, and to have devastating implications for future European growth. The contributors outline the manner through which European monetary union has subsidized and continues to exacerbate the burgeoning debt crisis. Most strikingly, the interplay between Europe’s political and economic realms is exposed as the boondoggle it is, with increasingly bureaucratic institutions plaguing the continent and endangering future potential.

Chapter 11: Compounding Agricultural Poverty: How the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy is Strangling European Recovery

Brian Ó Caithnia

Subjects: economics and finance, austrian economics, political economy, politics and public policy, political economy


Brian Ó Caithnia The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has been the pride of European integrationism since its inception. It has been the crowning glory of technocracy and the ultimate statement of unity in post-war Europe. Founded as part of the Treaty of Rome1 in 1957, the CAP has consumed at times up to 70 percent of the EU budget2 and has embodied the European Union’s (EU) desire to maintain economic self-sufficiency. The integrity of the CAP has been equated by some with the integrity of the essential political fabric of the EU itself (Hasha, 1999). For decades, however, the CAP has also come under a significant amount of criticism from economists for consuming a disproportionate share of the EU budget, introducing market distortions, wasting government funds and contributing to rural inequities. Nevertheless, it has survived many attempts to abolish it, and has acquired a reputation for being virtually impossible to reform in any meaningful way. There are few EU programs where one finds such broad political consensus among the member states. In 2005, Jacques Chirac the French president said, ‘I am not willing to make the slightest concession on the common agricultural policy .  .  . The CAP is the future’ (Open Europe, 2005, p. 3). José Zapatero, the Spanish prime minister, said, ‘On reform of the CAP, France and Spain have a common position’ (Open Europe, 2005, p. 3). Bertie Ahern, the Irish prime minister, said, ‘I believe that calls for CAP reform are misplaced because they are based on a misunderstanding of...

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