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Europe's agriculture and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) – frequently asked questions

CAP reforms

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 production.

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.



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A picture of EU agriculture

Basic CAP facts

Why the CAP?

The cost of the CAP

CAP reforms

Fact or fiction?

Rural Development

Food prices

The CAP and the environment

The CAP and trade

The CAP and developing countries

Food quality and safety

Animal health and welfare


Agriculture and Rural Development I Top

Last update: 20-04-2011