CAP Objectives

New legislative proposals

On 1 June 2018, the European Commission presented the legislative proposals on the future of food and farming.

The new legislative proposals make the common agricultural policy (CAP) fit for the future. The CAP remains at heart a policy designed to support European farmers and ensure Europe’s food security, while ensuring a resilient, sustainable and competitive agricultural sector.

The European Union shapes its budget for a pragmatic, modern, and long-term planning for the 2021-27 period to deliver on the issues that matter to Europeans. The Commission proposes that funding for the CAP is moderately reduced –by around 5% – to reflect the new reality of a Union at 27.

Related information:

Nine clear objectives shape the future CAP

Based on nine clear objectives, as outlined in the graphic icons above, the future CAP will continue to ensure access to high-quality food and strong support for the unique European farming model with an increased focus on the environment and climate, supporting the transition towards a more sustainable agricultural sector and the development of vibrant rural areas.

The future CAP will give priority to:

  • supporting the small and medium-sized family farms that are at the heart of the EU’s agricultural way of life, as wells as encouraging young farmers to join the profession
  • guaranteeing higher ambition on environmental and climate action, and supporting farmers who meet greater environmental and sustainability standards
  • encouraging the development of vibrant rural societies and helping farmers meet public expectations on food quality and health

Boosting future agriculture and rural development

To implement the future CAP, the European Commission proposes measures such as:

A fair deal through better targeting

  • reducing and then capping the direct payments to farmers at €60,000 per farm (taking into account labour)
  • EU countries having to ensure a higher level of payment per hectare for small and medium-sized farms
  • a minimum of 2% of direct support payments allocated to each EU country will be set aside for young farmers, that can include an increased “installation allowance” of up to €100,000
  • EU countries having to ensure that only genuine farmers receive support

Guaranteeing higher ambition on environmental and climate action

  • new obligations for farmers: preserving carbon-rich soils through protection of wetlands or peatlands; an obligatory nutrient management tool to improve water quality, reduce ammonia and nitrous oxide levels; crop rotation instead of crop diversification
  • eco-schemes set up by EU countries to support and/or incentivise farmers to observe agricultural practices beneficial for the climate and the environment, beyond their mandatory requirements

Agriculture at the heart of European society

  • encouraging new generations of farmers to join the profession, such as the mentoring of young farmers by more experienced ones, improving knowledge transfer from one generation to the next or developing succession plans
  • encouraging EU countries to do more at national level, for example through more flexible rules on taxation and inheritance, to improve access to land for young farmers
  • tougher requirements for farmers to meet expectations on food and health, such as linking financial support more closely to compliance with rules on reducing pesticide use, encouraging a reduction in the use of antibiotics, etc.

Greater use of knowledge and innovation is also high in the European Commission’s plans, expecting a dedicated budget of €10 billion from the EU’s research programme “Horizon 2020”, for research and innovation in food, agriculture, rural development and the bioeconomy. The agricultural European innovation partnership (EIP-AGRI) will continue to pool funding sources from Horizon Europe and rural development to foster competitive and sustainable farming and forestry.

A new way of working

The European Commission proposes a more flexible system, simplifying and modernising the way the CAP works for farmers and EU countries alike. The “one-size-fits all” approach of the past will be changed to give more freedom to EU countries, letting them decide on the way to meet common objectives set at EU level and on how to respond best to the needs of their farmers and rural communities.

The European Commission’s proposals include:

  • a single set of objectives set at EU level for the whole CAP, setting out what the policy intends to achieve for farmers, citizens, climate, etc. 
  • an extensive toolbox of measures will be agreed at EU level, establishing what member states can do with the money allocated to them. Each country is then free to choose the specific measures it considers to be the most effective to meet its needs
  • a common set of result indicators will also be agreed at EU level to ensure a level playing field in assessing the effectiveness of the measures used
  • each EU member state will carry out an extensive analysis of its specific needs and draw up a CAP strategic plan. The plan will set out how the member state will use CAP funding to meet these needs, in line with the overall EU objectives, including the tools to be used and establishing its own specific targets
  • each CAP strategic plan will need prior approval from the European Commission to ensure that it remains consistent with the EU-wide objectives, that is does not distort the single market or lead to excessive burdens on beneficiaries or administrations
  • each year, countries will submit a performance report to the European Commission to show progress towards the targets set. The Commission will then review the reports and propose recommendations to improve performance if necessary


  • June 2018: Commission proposes new legislation

    On 1 June 2018, the European Commission proposed new legislation to shape the future of the CAP.

  • November 2017: Communication on the future of food and farming

    29 November 2017: the European Commission presented a communication outlining ideas on the future of food and farming. The communication put forward a number of changes to the CAP, focusing primarily on simplifying it and ensuring best value-for-money. As well as presenting the priority areas that the future CAP must address, it also proposed a more flexible approach to implementing the policy in order to guarantee more effective results. Read the communication on the future of food and farming.

  • February to May 2017: Consultation on the future of the CAP

    The European Commission launched a public consultation on modernising and simplifying the common agricultural policy. The findings of the consultation voiced consensus in keeping a strong common agricultural policy at European Union level, the value added of having a common agricultural policy, challenges ahead (fair standard of living for farmers, environment and climate change) and a need for a simpler and more effective policy.

    During the consultation period (2 February to 2 May 2017), the European Commission received more than 320 000 replies, mostly from individuals. Along with the Commission's own on-the-ground analysis of the current state of play, those findings fed into the communication on the future of food and farming.

  • 2016: Number of steps to feed the political process

    The communication and prior consultation process built on a number of steps taken in 2016, such as the Cork 2.0 declaration, the annual Outlook conference, the regular civil dialogue group on the CAP and the Agricultural Markets Taskforce (AMTF) report.


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