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 20: The story of Community preference for food security

Christian Häberli


The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is a cornerstone of the post-war European order. The Treaty of Rome establishing the European Communities in 1957 provided in Article 38 that ‘the common market shall extend to agriculture and trade in agricultural products’. It also laid down the objectives and the specific principles for the progressive replacement of the various national market organizations by the CAP (now Articles 38–44 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)). Article 39 enumerated the multiple and potentially contradictory objectives of the CAP (emphasis added): 1. The objectives of the common agricultural policy shall be: (a) to increase agricultural productivity by promoting technical progress and by ensuring the rational development of agricultural production and the optimum utilisation of the factors of production, in particular labour; (b) thus to ensure a fair standard of living for the agricultural community, in particular by increasing the individual earnings of persons engaged in agriculture; (c) to stabilise markets; (d) to assure the availability of supplies; (e) to ensure that supplies reach consumers at reasonable prices. Article 43(1) mandated the European Commission ‘immediately this Treaty enters into force, [to] convene a conference of the Member States with a view to making a comparison of their agricultural policies, in particular by producing a statement of their resources and needs’.

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