7. 7.1 The Common Agricultural Policy INTRODUCTION The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP henceforth) is the best-known and most debated common policy of the EU. Its origins, in the 1950s and 1960s, are linked to history and relate essentially to the transition of the post-war EU economy from an economy based on agriculture to an economy based on industry and services (see Chapter 1). Its continuation in the 1980s, 1990s and the ﬁrst decade of the twenty-ﬁrst century is a delicate balance between political and economic reasons. The CAP is the only entirely communitarian policy in that, as we have seen in Chapter 6, its ﬁnancing is entirely provided for by the EU budget. As we shall make clearer in what follows, its aims are sustaining the income of farmers, promoting technical progress in agriculture and ensuring selfsuﬃciency and stable food markets with reasonable prices for consumers in Europe. Among policy makers, academics and practitioners, as well as ordinary citizens, the debate on the CAP is generally hot and often for the wrong reasons. The dividing line between those ‘in favour’ and those ‘against’ the CAP is however resilient to all possible classiﬁcations. Political, national or cultural categories are normally not a good indicator of one’s preferences towards the CAP. Within a given political party of a given country, in fact, one may ﬁnd opposite, often extreme, positions on the CAP. Similarly the change of political colour of a government of any given country does not necessarily translate...
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