About this consultation
Objective of the consultation
The common agricultural policy (CAP) was developed in the early sixties to translate in policy terms the objectives defined in the Treaty of Rome (1957), and subsequently taken over in the Treaty on the EU. Like all other EU policies or programmes, the CAP is also subject to other provisions of the Treaty to ensure coherence with the overall objectives of the EU.
Article 39 of the Treaty (ex Article 33 TEC) specifies that the objectives of the CAP must be
- to increase agricultural productivity by promoting technical progress and by ensuring the rational development of agricultural production and the optimum utilisation of the factors of production, in particular labour
- thus to ensure a fair standard of living for the agricultural community, in particular by increasing the individual earnings of persons engaged in agriculture
- to stabilise markets
- to assure the availability of supplies
- to ensure that supplies reach consumers at reasonable prices
The CAP has undergone several waves of reforms, with the latest reform decided in 2013 and implemented in 2015. Since then, the context in which that reform was forged has shifted significantly. In particular
- agricultural prices have fallen substantially and market uncertainty has increased, due amongst others to macroeconomic factors, geopolitical tensions, inhibiting a clear long-term planning of the sector
- the emphasis of trade negotiations has moved more visibly from multilateral to bilateral deals, requiring a careful balancing of offensive and defensive interests, with due attention paid to certain sensitive sectors
- the EU has signed up to new international commitments, especially those concerning climate change through the 21st Conference of Parties COP 21 and broad aspects of sustainable development through the UN's sustainable development goals (SDGs), and is also exposed to other geopolitical developments such as new large-scale migration
The above prompted a vigorous public debate about whether the 2013 reform went far enough to meet broader challenges related to the balance of support, the economic prospects for agriculture and rural areas, care for the environment (e.g. greening), action over climate change, sustainable and safe food production. Emerging opportunities in the areas of health, trade, the bioeconomy, the circular economy and the digital economy also need to be further considered.
Against this background, as part of its working programme for 2017, the Commission consulted widely on simplification and modernisation of the CAP to maximise its contribution to the Commission's ten priorities and to the SDGs. This consultation focused on specific policy priorities for the future, taking into account the opinion of the REFIT Platform and without prejudice to the next Multiannual Financial Framework. The starting point was a well-founded assessment of the performance of the current policy.
While the future of the CAP is already debated in various instances, the process included a broad consultation and an impact assessment. The goal was to summarise available evidence on the performance of the CAP, draw lessons from the implementation of the latest reform, have a structured dialogue, confirm the current difficulties at the time, and anticipate needs for modernisation and simplification of the CAP.
A questionnaire was included as part of this wide consultation process and contributed to the impact assessment. Results of the questionnaire are published above and were communicated in a public conference 'The CAP: Have your say' in July 2017.
This consultation does not prejudge in any way the financial allocation for the CAP in the next MFF.