EU budget and Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) have closely co-evolved. Farm support requires large shares of the EU budget, enabled by a hybrid CAP discourse that combines productivist, market-liberal and multifunctionalist ideas for coordination and legitimation among diverse constituencies. Facing funding shortfalls after Brexit and complaints about the CAP's weak transfer efficiency and environmental effectiveness, the Commission proposed a 'new delivery model' and significantly reduced CAP spending. The ensuing process revealed the agricultural policy community's power to leverage the budget process to ensure desired policies; continuing dominance of producer-centred discourses among CAP policy-makers; and nested distributive bargaining games. Member states' positions reflected a mixture of ideational positions, financial net-payer positions and electoral considerations to avoid exploitation of rural-urban cleavages by right-wing populists. Neither Covid-19 pandemic nor European Green Deal transformed the CAP's policy pathway, budget structure or budget share because institutional and political opportunity structures favour continuation of established policies.

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