CAP Objectives

Legislative proposals

On 1 June 2018, the European Commission presented the legislative proposals on the common agricultural policy (CAP) beyond 2020.

The new legislative proposals make the common agricultural policy apt to respond to future challenges. The CAP is one of EU's core policies, affects the lives of all Europeans and is designed to support European farmers and ensure Europe’s food security, while guaranteeing 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: EU law-making process 

Nine clear objectives

Based on nine clear objectives, 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 nine objectives of the future CAP are:

  • to ensure a fair income to farmers
  • to increase competiveness
  • to rebalance the power in the food chain
  • climate change action
  • environmental care
  • to preserve landscapes and biodiversity
  • to support generational renewal
  • vibrant rural areas
  • to protect food and health quality

Boosting future agriculture and rural development

The future common agricultural policy strives for:

A fairer deal through better targeting of support

Direct payments will remain an essential part of the CAP, ensuring stability and predictability. To give priority in supporting small and medium-sized family farms that are at heart of the EU’s agricultural way of life, and encouraging young farmers to join the profession, the European Commission proposes:

  • to reduce direct payments to farmers as of €60,000 and capping for payments above €100,000 per farm (labour costs will be taken fully into account) with a view to ensure a fairer distribution of payments
  • a higher level of support 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, for helping them get set up, complemented by financial support under rural development and measures facilitating access to land and land transfers.
  • EU countries having to ensure that only genuine farmers receive support

Higher ambition on environmental and climate action

Farmers play a key role in tackling climate change, protecting the environment and preserving landscapes and biodiversity. In its proposal, the European Commission sets high ambitions on environmental and climate change. Mandatory requirements include:

  • preserving carbon-rich soils through protection of wetlands and peatlands
  • obligatory nutrient management tool to improve water quality, reduce ammonia and Nitrous oxide levels
  • crop rotation instead of crop diversification.

Farmers will have the possibility to contribute further and be rewarded for going beyond mandatory requirements. EU countries will develop voluntary eco-schemes to support and incentivise farmers to observe agricultural practices beneficial for the climate and the environment.

Farmers at heart of Europe's society

Farmers are at the heart of Europe’s rural communities, providing vital public goods. The future common agricultural policy proposes to boost the development of vibrant rural areas by:

  • 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

Knowledge and innovation are essential for a smart, resilient and sustainable agricultural sector. The CAP of the future will both encourage increased investment in research and innovation and enable farmers and rural communities to benefit from it. A specific budget of €10 billion from the Horizon Europe programme will be set aside 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 society at large. The policy will shift the emphasis from compliance and rules towards results and performance. Through CAP strategic plans, countries will set out how they intend to meet the 9 EU-wide objectives using CAP instruments while responding to the specific needs of their farmers and rural communities.

Simplification of the common agricultural policy figures high on the European Commission’s agenda. It is part of the EU’s overall strategy for better regulation. Whenever possible, the EU aims to simplify and reduce EU legislation.

Through the proposal, the European Commission strives to simplify and modernise the CAP, for example, by:

  • streamlining administrative processes: 1 plan per country shall cover direct payments, rural development and sectorial strategies
  • making environmental protection easier: within a common set of standards and objectives at EU level, each country can adapt environmental and climate action to the the reality on the grounds- for example, the EU will set a simple obligation for crop rotation based on needs, and each country can define crop rotation requirements better adapted to their farms
  • supporting young farmers better: in one single plan, each country can support young farmers through direct support and rural development - this means that young farmers will not have to deal with different procedures when applying for EU support, and the national administrations will have more flexibility to assess business plans

Read more on the simplification efforts in the presentation:

DownloadPDF - 2.6 MB



  • 1 June 2018

    The European Commission proposed new legislation to shape the future of the CAP.

    An impact assessment supporting the legislative proposals for the CAP was carried out.

  • 29 November 2017

    The European Commission presented a communication outlining ideas on the future of food and farming.

  • February to May 2017

    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 to address challenges ahead (fair standard of living for farmers, environment and climate change), and a need for a simpler and more effective policy.


DownloadPDF - 1.4 MB
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DownloadPDF - 1.4 MB