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 24: Looking back to look forward

Michael N. Cardwell and Joseph A. McMahon


Addressing agriculture, the 1956 Spaak Report considered it inconceivable that a common market could be established without agriculture being included within its scope to ensure equality of treatment with industrial products. Although the Treaty of Rome’s provisions on agriculture are essentially unchanged, the range of factors to be considered within the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has expanded considerably. It now includes policy imperatives which have emerged since then, such as the concern with the environment which emerged in the 1970s and the concern with the provision of greater information to the consumer which developed as a response to the various food crises of the 1980s and 1990s. Perhaps the most notable development has been the emergence of globalization. When the CAP was established an international context was provided by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), but the discipline provided by the GATT was weak. Exhortations to improve that discipline were effectively discounted by the European Union (EU) as it set about designing and implementing the CAP. As a result, the policy was protectionist in character and measures such as variable import levies exacerbated the problems faced by third countries exporting agricultural products to the EU. This state of affairs persisted throughout the 1970s. However, the launch of the Uruguay Round negotiations promised reform and the promise was realized through the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA), which would have a pivotal role in the future development of the CAP.

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