Research Handbook on EU Agriculture Law
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Research Handbook on EU Agriculture Law

Edited by Joseph A. McMahon and Michael N. Cardwell

Following the conclusion of the latest round of reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in 2013, the Research Handbook on EU Agriculture Law provides an up-to-date discussion of these reforms and the changing landscape in which the CAP now operates.
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Chapter 18: The impact of the Doha Round on the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy

Bernard O’Connor


The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post-dates the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) by about ten years, but it is fair to say that, for the most part, their paths did not cross until the 1990s. Whether there could have been, or there should have been, a greater interaction between them before this time are questions beyond the scope of this chapter. When the meeting did finally happen, it was not easy. Problems began appearing with the Oilseeds and the first Bananas disputes. The negotiations leading to the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) in 1994 were highly charged. Things became really fractious in the subsequent EC – Bananas III and EC – Sugar disputes. Prior to the Uruguay Round (1986 to 1994), many policymakers, particularly those in Brussels, fully appreciated the need to end the agricultural export subsidy ‘war’ caused by the success of the CAP in boosting EU agricultural production. It was recognized that the need for subsidies could only escalate if external disciplines were not introduced, particularly after the introduction of the US Export Enhancement Programme. Export subsidies were already beginning to be a strain on the EU budget, causing tensions within the Union. The collateral damage to the Cairns group of countries,9 and overall agricultural production in developing countries, was also recognized. So there was a deep-seated understanding that change, in relation to what became the third pillar of the AoA, would be necessary and involve disciplines on export subsidies.

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