Europe's agriculture and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) –
frequently asked questions
What did the latest reforms accomplish?
Reform of the CAP began in 1992, and intensified with the
reforms of 2003, which cut the link between subsidies and
Farmers can now become true entrepreneurs; produce what the
market and consumers want, look for profitable new markets and
exploit new niches.
They no longer have to "farm for subsidies", producing food for
which there is no market.
Farmers now receive an income support payment, on condition that
they look after the farmland and fulfil environmental, animal
welfare and food safety standards.
If they do not meet these standards, their payments are cut.
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 engaged in modernising, streamlining and
simplifying the CAP.
Through decoupled payments, we continue to give farmers a
certain level of financial security. At the same time, we are
liberating them to respond to market signals.
We have adapted our market instruments (such as public
intervention) so that they function as real safety nets without
blocking normal market signals.
Through the Rural Development
policy, we help farmers restructure their farms and care for the
environment, thus nurturing dynamic rural areas.
Does the EU still have a 'Common'
Agricultural Policy after the recent reforms?
Spending on Rural Development is partly funded by the Member
States, to cater for specific national and regional needs but is
governed by common EU rules. Most CAP measures are still
governed by common rules and fully funded by the EU budget.
In fact, the CAP should remain 'common'. Managing
policy at the European level ensures fair competition between EU
farmers, keeps spending down and guarantees compliance with the
EU's high food safety and environmental standards.