Theory and Evidence
Chapter 7: The Common Agricultural Policy 1977–2003
The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has been a continuous presence since the inception of the European Economic Community and in key aspects has remained resistant to substantial reform. As a complex policy system, the CAP provides a difficult empirical challenge to dynamic analysis. The preceding chapters have established that viewing policy as a composite whole or system is an appropriate theoretical starting point for a dynamic perspective on policy development. The empirical challenge is that of microanalysis: how to analyse the constituent elements and their interrelationships in the context of an overall identity for the system, marked by a point position in policy space. In other words, how is a multi-commodity, multi-level and multi-national policy ‘whole’ operationalized as a variable? What measures or indicators may be used to trace or map a path through policy space that can be used to structure a narrative? This chapter aims to address these difficulties through examining a series of CAP reform events, from 1977 to 2003, in terms of the CAP as a composite variable. This structured narrative shows that reforms of the CAP over time, when viewed at a system level, have occurred within a path-dependent process; but simultaneously and within the CAP system over this period a multitude of processes at different temporal scales can be observed. The chapter suggests a microfoundation to the path-dependent process in terms of situated agency: the protection of the net budget position of member states with respect to the CAP as an objective for national...
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