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The common agricultural policy (CAP) and agriculture in Europe – frequently asked questions

Farming in Europe – an overview

How rural is the EU?

Over 77% of the EU's territory is classified as rural (47% is farm land and 30% forest) and is home to around half its population (farming communities and other residents).

How many farmers are there in the EU?

13.7 million (full-time).

What types of farming are there in the EU?

A wide variety, including intensive, conventional and organic farming. This diversity has become even greater with the arrival of the new member countries in central and eastern Europe.

Family farms, often passed on from one generation to the next, are typical.

Europe has 13.7 million farmers and an average farm size of about 12 hectares (by way of comparison, the US has 2 million farmers and an average size of 180 hectares).

Does the EU support a particular 'European model of agriculture'?

YES – the EU's common agricultural policy is designed to support farming that provides food security (in a context of climate change) and promote balanced development across all Europe's rural areas, including those where production conditions are difficult.

Such farming must thus fulfil multiple functions: meeting citizens' concerns about food (availability, price, variety, quality and safety), safeguarding the environment and allowing farmers to make a decent living.

At the same time, rural communities and landscapes must be preserved, as a valuable part of Europe's heritage.

The common agricultural policy is being reformed to take better account of the diversity of farming in Europe.

Where can I find statistics on EU agriculture?

In our Statistics section and on the EUROSTAT website.

CAP – basic facts

What is the CAP?

The common agricultural policy allows European farmers to meet the needs of 500 million Europeans. Its main objectives are to ensure a fair standard of living for farmers and to provide a stable and safe food supply at affordable prices for consumers.

The CAP has changed a lot since it started in 1962, and continues to change today. The latest proposals, for the CAP after 2012, have 3 priorities:

  • viable food production
  • sustainable management of natural resources
  • balanced development of rural areas throughout the EU.

Who runs the CAP?

The European Commission collaborates with the full range of stakeholders (mainly through its many advisory groups) in preparing its proposals. On lawmaking, the Commission's proposals are decided on by the Council of agriculture ministers of the 27 EU countries, together with the European Parliament.

The day-to-day running of the CAP is the responsibility of the member countries. The EU's Court of Auditors plays a big role in supervising the expenditure.

How is the budget spent?

The CAP's budget is spent in 3 different ways:

  • Income support for farmers – who receive direct payments, provided they live up to strict standards for food safety, environmental protection and animal health and welfare. These payments are fully financed by the EU, and account for 70% of the CAP budget.
  • Rural development – measures to help farmers modernise their farms and become more competitive while protecting the environment, and to keep rural communities thriving. These payments are part financed by the member countries, and account for some 20% of the CAP's budget.
  • Market support – for example when bad weather destabilises markets. These payments account for less than 10% of the CAP budget.

These three areas are closely interrelated and must be managed coherently. For example, direct payments both provide farmers with a steady income and reward them for providing environmental services in the public interest. Similarly, rural development measures both encourage additional public services and help modernise farms.

Who decides the size of the CAP budget?

The budget is decided every year by the Council of the EU and the European Parliament. To keep long-term spending under control, they work within a multi-year "financial framework". The current financial framework runs from 2007 to 2013.

When the next financial framework comes around, the CAP will also be reformed to adapt it to the new challenges facing farming and rural life in Europe.

Are all farmers treated equally?

Because of how the common agricultural policy has evolved over time, today 20% of farmers receive 80% of the aid. One of the chief objectives of the reform for 2013 is restoring the balance.

The current state of affairs is explained by the fact that 20% of farmers own 80% of farmland. In the case of the countries which  belonged to the EU before 2004, how much aid farmers currently receive depends on 'historical criteria' (how much direct aid they received during the reference period 2000-02), the area they farm and the aid model adopted by their country. Since 2003, these member countries have been able to redistribute this direct aid to farmers, making payments on an individual basis, on a regional basis, or a combination of the two. The regional and hybrid models can be used to correct perceived unfairness. In the case of the countries which  have joined the EU since 2004, direct payments are based on a fixed amount per hectare.

Although the Commission has proposed several times to set an upper limit on these direct payments since 1999, to make distribution of aid fairer, several member countries have rejected the proposal. The Commission nevertheless continues to believe that the CAP must be made fairer. Since 2008, the amount of direct payments has been gradually reduced, and the money thus saved reallocated to the rural development budget. This process is known as 'modulation', and is popular with the public.

In the run-up to the CAP after 2013, the Commission is again proposing a thorough review to ensure a  fairer distribution of direct payments among member countries, regions and farmers. The new system, which must be suited to the whole of the EU, must do away with the 'historical criteria', in particular. The Commission is also proposing to place an upper limit on direct aid, to ensure that it plays its proper role of income support, and is paid only to active farmers. It is also proposing action to support young farmers, farming in less-favoured areas and a simplified programme for small farms which play an important role in the economy of certain rural areas.

Does the CAP encourage the modernisation of European agriculture?

Yes. There are many incentives to encourage modernisation, helping farmers to improve their farms, process and sell their produce and produce higher-quality foods using more sustainable, environmentally-friendly farming methods.

Is there fraud in the CAP?

According to data from the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), fraud accounted on average for 0.02% of the CAP's budget in 2006-10. In recent years, the European Union has substantially tightened its budget checks, and the system of direct payments has further reduced the risk of fraud.

Does anyone ever check if the CAP achieves its aims?

Yes. The effectiveness of the CAP is closely evaluated. Before making any legislative proposals, the Commission always consults stakeholders and citizens, and conducts impact analyses. It also regularly commissions independent studies on the performance of the CAP's different instruments, and how they can be improved.

What's the point of direct payments?

Direct payments help ensure that farming can continue throughout the EU, by providing a steady income for farmers. In this way, they support the long-term viability of farms and cushion them against price fluctuations.

Direct payments also reward farmers for aspects of their work that aren't related to the markets, but that are nevertheless vital public services to all Europeans. In other words, farmers receive these payments only on condition that they keep to strict standards relating to the environment, food safety, plant and animal health and animal welfare, and generally keep their land in good productive condition. This is called 'cross-compliance'.

After 2013, cross-compliance will be made even stricter, with part of the direct payments being conditional on the farmer using sustainable farming practices. This means improving the environmental performance of farming in Europe, by encouraging farmers to diversify their crops, keep permanent pasture and preserve the environmental infrastructure of their farms and the surrounding landscape.

Agricultural markets in the EU – how they work

While ensuring that farmers produce what the markets are demanding, the CAP also provides mechanisms - safety nets – to prevent an economic, health or weather crisis from destroying whole swathes of production. These mechanisms include buying in to public intervention (national intervention agencies withdraw surplus produce from the market) and private storage aid (to stabilise markets).

The 2013 reform will modernise these mechanisms, since crises that can disturb the markets are becoming both more frequent and more serious than in the past. The Commission is proposing a specific budget line to fund responses to crises that go beyond the normal functioning of the markets, as well as a stronger emergency mechanism. It is also proposing to support the creation of mutual funds and insurance mechanisms to help farmers better anticipate and weather crises.

The reform of the CAP post-2013 also envisages encouraging farmers to organise themselves into professional and inter-professional organisations. The Commission is also monitoring relations in the food chain, and intends to encourage the different players to improve the transparency of prices and commercial practices.

Rural Development

What is rural development?

In the context of the EU and the CAP, rural development seeks to safeguard the vitality of the countryside by supporting programmes to invest, modernise and support activity – both agricultural and non-agricultural  – in rural areas.

Who runs rural development?

The EU countries choose measures suited to their specific needs and manage their programmes themselves. The EU pays part of the costs (co-financing).

How much does it cost, and where does the money come from?

The budget for the CAP for 2007-13 for all 27 countries totals €92 billion (current prices).

The money comes from the European Agriculture Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and part of the direct payments to farmers is now reallocated to rural development through a mechanism called 'modulation'.

How is the money used?

At the moment, EU countries set their own priorities for rural development, but must spend at least 10% of their budget on making their farming and forestry sectors more competitive, at least 25% on improving the environment and the countryside and at least 10% on diversifying the rural economy.

Funds can be used for both agricultural and non-agricultural activities, such as:

  • extending broadband coverage
  • helping small businesses
  • helping the food processing industry
  • developing childcare facilities so that more mothers living in rural areas can return to work.

With the 2013 CAP reform, the Commission is proposing that the EAFRD be brought into the new common strategic framework with the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF), the Cohesion fund and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), to achieve the objectives (sustainable, smart and inclusive growth) of the Europe 2020 strategy.

The basic idea of multi-annual schemes designed and co-funded by the member countries (or regions) will remain the same. However, instead of focusing on the three priorities of economic, environmental and social issues, with minimum spending requirements for each one, from 2013 there will be 6 priorities:

  • fostering knowledge transfer and innovation
  • enhancing competitiveness
  • promoting food-chain organisation and risk management
  • restoring, preserving and enhancing ecosystems
  • promoting resource efficiency and transition to a low-carbon economy
  • promoting social inclusion, poverty reduction and economic development in rural areas

Member countries will still have to spend 25% of their rural development budget on land management and the fight against climate change.

To meet the quantified targets set against these priorities (taking account of their own specific needs), countries and regions will be able to combine measures drawn from a streamlined menu to design their rural development programmes.

They will also be able to design subprogrammes with higher support rates to address the needs of young farmers, small farmers, mountain areas and short supply chains.

Can rural development programmes be adapted to different regions?

Each country formulates its national strategy for rural development, but specific programmes can be designed and implemented at regional level.

What's the difference between rural development under the CAP and regional policy?

The EU's regional policy is geared to helping the poorest regions in the EU, while the rural development programmes apply to all rural areas in all EU countries.

Today, rural development policy helps not only farmers but also other people participating in the rural economy such as  forest owners, farm workers, small businesses, local NGOs, etc.

What is "Leader"?

'Leader' is a programme to strengthen the rural economy by encouraging local people to take action at the local level, rather than imposing off-the-shelf action on them. Under today's rules, EU countries must spend at least 5% of their rural development budget on Leader projects.

Can rural development help protect the environment?

Each rural development programme must include action to protect and improve the EU's natural resources and landscapes in rural areas.

Rural development money is given in exchange and as compensation for action that protects and preserves the EU countryside, and that helps fight climate change, including

  • preserving water quality
  • sustainable land management
  • planting trees to prevent erosion and floods.

I want to inform people in my country about the CAP. Can I get a grant?

The Commission co-finances information measures to raise awareness about the CAP and promote the European model of agriculture.

CAP – what's the point?

Why do we need a 'common' agricultural policy at EU level?

The CAP has three main aims:

  • viable food production
  • sustainable management of natural resources
  • climate action and balanced development of the EU's territory.

All the EU countries share these objectives, none of which  can be attained without providing financial support to farming and rural areas.

Policy must therefore be set at European level to ensure fair conditions with a common set of objectives, principles and rules. A collective EU policy also makes for better use of budgetary resources than would the coexistence of national policies.

Beyond managing the single EU market, other objectives that must be addressed at trans-national level include: cohesion across countries and regions, cross-border environmental problems, and global challenges such as climate change, water management, biodiversity, animal health and welfare, food and feed safety, plant health and public health as well as consumer interests.

Should the CAP be abolished?

No. We cannot gamble with our food supply by stripping farming of all defence against crises. We cannot count on market forces alone to protect our landscapes against climate change or to help our farmers deal with globalisation.

Research shows that withdrawing public support would lead to greater concentration of agricultural production in some areas with particularly favourable conditions, using more intensive farming practices, while the less competitive areas would face marginalisation and abandonment. Such developments would result in increased environmental pressures and the deterioration of valuable habitats with serious economic and social consequences including an irreversible deterioration of Europe's agricultural production capacity.

Why do farmers need public money?

Contrary to popular belief in some countries, farming is not a money-spinner – far from it. And farmers' investments in time and money are always at the mercy of economic, health and weather conditions beyond their control. Farming requires heavy investment, both human and financial, that bears fruit only months, or even years, later and remains constantly vulnerable.

Supporting farmers' incomes ensures that food continues to be produced throughout the EU and pays for the provision of public services which have no market value: environmental protection, animal welfare, safe, high-quality food, etc.

These public services are all the more important because the EU's standards are among the highest in the world – this makes food production in Europe more expensive than in countries that don't impose such rigorous standards.

Without public support, Europe's farmers would be unable to compete with farmers elsewhere whilst still meeting the specific requirements of European consumers. Moreover, as climate change makes itself ever more felt, the cost of sustainable farming can only continue to rise.

CAP – how much does it cost?

How much does the CAP cost the taxpayer?

The CAP costs each EU citizen around 30 eurocents a day. In 2011 it accounted for 43% of the EU's annual budget: €58 billion – although its overall share in the budget has been shrinking each year since 1984 (when it was 72%). The truth is, expenditure on the CAP represents less than 1% of all public expenditure of the EU countries combined - and public expenditure on farming in the EU is pooled at European level, something unheard of in any other sector of the economy. In comparison, the EU countries spend three times more on defence.

Why is nearly 40 % of the EU budget given over to agriculture and not to other sectors?

Agriculture is the only sector entirely funded from the EU budget,meaning that EU spending replaces national spending. Other areas, such as research, education, transport, defence, pensions and health care, either don't figure in the EU budget or take a much smaller share, because they are paid for – fully or partially - out of national treasuries and are implemented by the EU countries themselves.

In return, the CAP ensures the European people a dependable and plentiful supply of high-quality food, as well as a healthy environment and exceptional landscapes.

How is the CAP funded?

Money for the CAP comes from the EU's general budget. CAP spending on rural development is jointly financed by the EU and its member countries.

The EU budget itself is financed mainly by the Union's 'own resources' (customs duties; levies; VAT and a resource based on EU countries' gross national income (GNI).

Who gets the money and how much?

As of 2009, in the interests of transparency and accountability, each EU country must publish a list of all beneficiaries of CAP payments. However, following an appeal lodged by German farmers with the European Court, the obligation to publish all personal information on CAP beneficiaries was suspended in 2010 on grounds of violation of privacy. Specifically, the Court ordered that the names of beneficiaries no longer be published. The Commission remains committed to the principle of transparency, and must now propose new rules that take account of the Court's arguments.

As a taxpayer who is not a farmer, can I benefit from the CAP?

You already do! When the EU helps its farmers, society benefits as a whole. It gets a secure supply of affordable food. The average EU household devotes 15% of its budget to food – half as much as in 1960.

By supporting sustainable farming practices, we help protect our environment and our rich and diverse rural landscapes.

Reforming the CAP

What have the latest reforms accomplished?

The most substantial reforms to the CAP began in 1992 and intensified in 2003, when the link between subsidies and production was cut.This means that farmers no longer have to farm for subsidies, producing food for which there is no market. Instead, they are now free to produce what the market and consumers want, look for profitable new markets and exploit new niches.

Farmers now receive income support, provided they look after their farmland and meet food-safety, environmental and animal welfare standards – failing which, their payments are reduced.

The new CAP is much more trade-friendly, as 90% of our direct payments are classed by the WTO as non-trade-distorting.

The CAP gives consumers a wide choice of high quality food.

The Commission is continually modernising, streamlining and simplifying the CAP.

Now that payments to farmers are no longer linked to production, farmers can continue to enjoy some financial security, while being freer to respond to market signals.

The CAP's market instruments (such as public intervention) have been adapted to function as a safety net without blocking normal market signals. The rural development policy helps farmers restructure their farms and care for the environment, helping rural areas to thrive.

Does the EU still have a 'common' agricultural policy following the recent reforms?

Absolutely.

Although spending on rural development is now partly funded by the member countries (to cater for specific national and regional needs), most CAP action is still governed by common rules and fully funded by the EU budget.

Indeed, the agricultural policy must continue to be common - to ensure fair competition between EU farmers, keep down spending and safeguard the EU’s high food safety and environmental standards.

What will happen to the CAP after 2013?

A new budget and further reform must be decided in time for 2013.

This new reform concerns all EU citizens, and so the Commission has opened up a dialogue with the whole of civil society and the stakeholders. From the broad public debate in April-July 2010 (which drew almost 6000 individual and collective contributions), followed by intense political debate with the Council of ministers and the European Parliament, the broad lines of the CAP from 2013 have emerged. The Commission presented its legislative proposals in October 2011, and these should be adopted by Council and Parliament in late 2012/early 2013, so that the new CAP can take effect in 2014.

The new reform is also an opportunity to confront the economic, environmental and territorial challenges facing farming and rural areas today, capitalising on the wealth and diversity of the different types of farming in the 27 EU countries, while ensuring greater fairness between countries, regions and farmers.

Society at large will benefit from greater food security, a better environment, action to fight climate change, and a thriving countryside, while farmers and rural areas will benefit from a more efficient, balanced, fair and stable policy with new investment opportunities.

What will change after the new reform:

  • Direct payments to farmers will better reflect the need to fairly support farmers' incomes and recompense the public service they perform (for example by protecting the environment). They also provide more support to regions where conditions are more difficult, and help young people to take up farming.
  • The market management mechanisms will be simpler, more effective and more agile.
  • Rural development policy will focus on increasing competitiveness and promoting innovation.

New options will be introduced to help farmers cope with price and income volatility.

Food Prices

Why support farmers when food prices are high?

Farm-gate prices make up only a relatively small part of the prices consumers pay for food. The cost of cereals accounts for only 5% of the price of a loaf of bread.

Conversely, farmers are extremely vulnerable to ever more frequent and extreme market fluctuations. We cannot afford to let market fluctuations jeopardise our food supply. EU farmers produce a steady supply of affordable food and have now been freed by the CAP to respond to consumer demands faster than ever.

Are biofuels responsible for the increase in food prices?

The available studies suggest that the production of biofuels in the EU does not play a major role in the rising food prices. Only 1% of the EU's cereals go into the production of ethanol. Around 2/3 of our oilseed rape production goes into the manufacture of biodiesel, but EU rape production accounts for only 2% of world demand.

Nevertheless, we must invest in 2nd and 3rd generation biofuels.

CAP and the environment

What is the impact of farming on the environment?

Farming can help create and maintain a sustainable environment, but it can also put the environment at risk. The common agricultural policy has an important role to play in achieving a balance, and that role will become crucial in the years to come. Targeted financial support will incentivise farmers to engage in farming practices that maintain biodiversity and help fight climate change.

In addition, member countries must spend at least 25% of their rural development budget on protecting and improving the environment and the countryside.

How does the CAP help the environment?

Farmers who do not respect the basic environmental requirements of the CAP have their payments suspended. A growing share of the CAP's budget goes towards stimulating extensive and organic farming, landscape preservation and habitat and biodiversity conservation, all of which ultimately protect our environment.

What does the EU do to support organic farming?

In the EU, organic farming – a form of farming that respects the natural cycles of animals and plants – is protected by stringent, specific production requirements laid down in EU law, as well as rules on labelling and traceability to guarantee the quality and authenticity of organic produce, wherever it comes from in the world.

In this context, the EU has developed a special European logo for organic products that comply with EU organic production standards. Organic farmers and food producers must undergo a strict certification process before being entitled to use the logo.

EU countries can offer specific support in their rural development programmes to conventional farmers wishing to make the switch to organic farming. This option will be more visible after 2013, with specific aid for organic farming and the possibility to receive aid for both converting to and maintaining organic farming.

Does the CAP cover forestry?

The CAP does not cover commercial forestry, but recognises the beneficial impact of well-managed woodland on natural landscape and biodiversity. It therefore supports farmers who wish to reforest part of their farmland.

CAP and trade

Is Europe open to food imports?

The EU has done much to open up its market in the last 20 years, and more than 2/3 of its imports of farm produce come from developing countries – more than the US, Australia, Japan, Canada and New Zealand put together. Bilateral agreements with many countries allow for low tariffs on farm imports, and the 50 poorest countries in the world can export unlimited quantities to the EU duty free.

Should we erect new import barriers to protect our farmers and food?

If we erect new barriers, so will our trading partners. Europe's competitive advantage lies in providing high-value processed foods. Markets in developing countries, including China and India, offer huge opportunities for expansion in that direction.

The best way to ensure food security is to maintain healthy two-way trade. And the best way to protect our farmers is to free them to effectively compete on the world market by providing them with a steady income, which is exactly what the CAP does today.

CAP and developing countries

Do CAP export subsidies destroy the livelihood of farmers in developing countries?

No.

20 years ago, we spent €10bn a year on export subsidies; in 2011 we spent about €160m. Export refunds target not the developing countries but the Mediterranean basin and the rest of Europe. Only a very small proportion of subsidised goods find their way to Africa.

Under the Doha Round WTO negotiations, the EU has committed to eliminating export subsidies altogether by 2013, provided the negotiations achieve a global agreement and the other countries commit to do the same.

Do developing countries really benefit from the EU's trade concessions?

The EU has preferential tariff agreements with many developing countries. It provides more trade-related aid to developing countries than the rest of the world put together – almost €1 billion a year in the last 3 years.

The EU absorbs 71% of the farm exports of developing countries (worth around €59bn in 2008-10) – more than USA, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and Australia combined. EU imports from Africa alone amount to more than €12bn (15% of all EU imports). About a third of exports from developing countries are destined for the EU.

What is the EU's approach to trade with developing countries?

The EU is in favour of multilateral trade rules that benefit all, and especially developing countries. That is why it believes developed countries should make deeper and faster cuts in tariffs than developing countries.

Food quality and safety

Is our food safe?

The EU has improved food safety significantly since the food scares of the 1990s, by introducing hygiene measures, rules on animal and plant health and checks on pesticide residues and additives in food, to give only a few examples.

How does the EU guarantee food quality?

Food quality is guaranteed through labelling, marketing and quality rules, such as the protection of geographical indications, obligatory nutritional information on labels, quality logos and animal welfare standards.

Apart from hygiene rules which guarantee safe products, the EU has developed:

  • marketing standards that products sold in the EU must meet
  • optional quality terms to indicate the quality of the product on the label
  • European quality systems identifying products with a specific quality
    • 'Protected Designation of Origin’ (PDO) or ‘Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) for quality linked to geographical origin
    • Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG).
  • a special EU logo for organic products meeting strict requirements
  • Guidelines to optimise the performance of food quality certification systems guaranteeing compliance with certain product characteristics or processes.

Animal Health and Welfare

How are animals treated?

The aim of EU legislation on the welfare of farm animals is to recognise that animals are sentient and should not endure unnecessary suffering. The rules uphold the 'five freedoms' of animals:

  • freedom from hunger or thirst
  • freedom from discomfort
  • freedom from pain, injury or disease
  • freedom to express normal behaviour
  • freedom from fear and distress.

The Commission's Food and Veterinary Office makes inspections to ensure that the EU's animal welfare laws are correctly applied in the member countries.

The CAP also grants aid to farmers to improve the animal welfare conditions on their farms beyond the minimum standards:

  • All aid paid to farmers under the CAP is subject to compliance with minimum animal welfare standards. Farmers who fail to comply can lose all or part of their payments.
  • Farmers who invest in improving their stockfarming systems (for example housing conditions), qualify for extra grants.

The highest standards of animal welfare are imposed on organic livestock production. This means that it is more expensive to produce food in Europe than in other countries which don't apply such strict standards. Without public support, European farmers would be hard pressed to survive in the long term in this globalised environment.

The concern for animal welfare goes beyond the EU's borders, and the EU is active in raising awareness of the issues as an aspect of added value in international trade.

How does the EU protect animal health?

The EU's rules on animal diseases are binding on its member countries, and continue to improve with the accumulation of experience and expertise.

Fact or fiction?

Golf clubs can get farm subsidies

Golf clubs and other businesses can receive subsidies for land they own which is used for farming in line with CAP's rules and conditions. EU countries can now refuse direct payments to parties who are not "real farmers".

After 2013, the Commission is proposing a definition of "active farmers" that will ensure that subsidies are no longer paid to entities that have nothing to do with farming.

CAP encourages the production of too much food

This popular caricature of the CAP is no longer true. The days of butter mountains and farming for subsidies are gone.

Today, farmers can produce what consumers want and the market needs. Subsidies are no longer linked to production, and farms are more competitive. According to the World Trade Organisation, 90% of all direct CAP payments are trade-friendly and don't distort trade.

EU taxpayers pay farmers at the expense of other professions

Agriculture is not the only sector to benefit from public support. Sectors like energy, transport, medical and scientific research also receive public grants. Farm payments are more visible in the European context because they are almost entirely financed by the EU budget.

In fact, EU spending replaces what would otherwise come from national treasuries. In sectors like education, defence and health care, national and regional governments bear most or all of the costs.

In reality, CAP spending accounts for lest than 1% of public spending in all EU countries together - the EU and its members spend three times more on defence.

The EU is alone in providing public support for its farmers

This is not true. Most developed countries support farming in one way or another. The CAP is tailored to the specific social, economic and environmental conditions in the EU. It has been reformed several times since 1992, to become a modern policy capable of adapting to meet the needs of Europe's citizens and the challenges of the 21st century.

The CAP is rather bureaucratic

It is sometimes inevitable and necessary to fill in and check forms, to ensure that taxpayers' money is properly spent. Nevertheless, the Commission is actively trying to simplify CAP rules and cut out unnecessary paperwork.

EU countries can cheat by applying the CAP unevenly

EU countries have to apply the CAP on their territory according to the commonly agreed European rules. To minimise unfair competition within the EU, national spending is monitored by both the Commission and the Court of Auditors, any country caught paying illegal aid can be taken to court.