EU Science Hub

Agricultural policies and European Union accession processes in the Western Balkans: aspirations versus reality

Abstract: 

One of the main political objectives of Western Balkan (WB) countries/territories is accession into the European Union (EU).From the perspective of the agricultural sector, this implies that the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) represents the bench-mark for setting their future agricultural policy. This paper analyzes the structure of the currently implemented agricultural policies in the WBs, and their level of harmonization with the CAP. The uncertain nature of the final date of EU accession, and changing nature of the CAP, may imply that the agricultural policy choice in the WBs is an outcome of the EU’s accession requirements and domestic political pressures. We developed a conceptual framework to define the key harmonization principles of agricultural policies and the Agricultural Policy Measures (APM) classification scheme to gain a detailed understanding of the existing agricultural support in the WBs. While the WBs is committed to adhere to the CAP in future, the agricultural policies actually implemented depart from this declared future planning, and rather reflect domestic political economy interests. The pressures of the EU accession negotiations, and the EU pre-accession support, are the key elements of the EU accession process which push the WBs to adapt their agricultural policies to the CAP.