By European Court of Auditors, 2018

I. The EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is up for review, as the current seven-year planning period for EU finances and policy implementation ends in 2020. In November 2017 the Commission published a Communication on the future of food and farming, which presents its thinking on the post-2020 CAP.

II. This briefing paper is our response to the Commission’s Communication. In this document we analyse key trends and data relevant to agriculture and rural areas, present our views on the current CAP, and discuss criteria and key challenges for the new CAP.

III. The Communication takes into account a number of recommendations the ECA has made over several years. It sets out an ambition to deliver a new performance-based framework. However we note that some of the statistics underlying the Communication do not meet the criteria we have set out in previous reports, and that the measures supported are, on the basis of the Communication, likely to be similar to those supported in the past.

IV. A key element of the Communication is advocacy of a “new delivery model” – based on increased flexibility and subsidiarity and giving Member States more responsibility for performance. In our view, the success of the new delivery model requires:
• Measures designed on the basis of solid scientific and statistical evidence demonstrating that they will deliver desired results;
• The new “CAP strategic plans” setting relevant, ambitious and verifiable targets that are aligned with EU objectives;
• A robust performance monitoring and evaluation framework; and
• A solid accountability and audit chain providing assurance on both compliance and performance.

V. The Commission’s Communication does not represent a proposal. The criteria set out in this briefing paper will inform our future review of the Commission’s proposal when that is published. We envisage that the review will then lead to an opinion on the final proposal.

Download this file (European Court of Auditors (2018) Future of the CAP.pdf)Future of the CAP[ ]

By European Commission, 2017

The EU's farm sector and rural areas are major players in terms of the Union's well-being and its future. EU agriculture is one of the world's leading producers of food, and guarantees food security for over 500 million European citizens. The EU's farmers are also the first stewards of the natural environment, as they care for the natural resources of soil, water, air and biodiversity on 48% of the EU's land (foresters a further 36%) and provide essential carbon sinks and the supply of renewable resources for industry and energy. They also depend directly on these natural resources. Large numbers of jobs depend on farming, either within the sector itself (which provides regular work for 22 million persons) or within the wider food sector (farming, food processing and related retail and services together provide around 44 million jobs). The EU's rural areas as a whole are home to 55% of its citizens while serving as major bases for employment, recreation and tourism.


By Drăgoi, A. & Bâlgăr, C., 2013

Currently, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) faces a series of challenges involving the need for strategic decisions for the long term future of European agriculture and rural areas in the European Union. To be effective in addressing these challenges, the CAP must work within a framework of connected economic policies and sustainable public finances that contribute to accomplish the EU. In this context, it should be noted that the Europe 2020 Strategy revealed a new perspective for the CAP reform, the main development directions being focused on finding the most appropriate solutions to the new economic, social and environmental issues brought on by the international economic crisis, also contributing to the sustainable development of EU agriculture. In what follows, we will briefly review the existing proposals at EU level for future development directions of the CAP.


By Lines, T., 2010

The first major reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) were agreed in 1992 in parallel with the trade negotiations that led to the World Trade Organisation (WTO)’s creation in 1995. Their purpose was to reduce agricultural surpluses and stockpiles and to open up the European Union’s agriculture to world markets. Under successive waves of reform, the previous system of intervention prices and product-specific (or ‘coupled’) subsidies was gradually replaced by direct payments to farmers. Under the last set of reforms in 2003, the administration and even certain choices of policy were devolved to the Member States. This was not done for reasons of principle but largely because no consensus was reached during the reform negotiations; and it played into the hands of those who would weaken or even dismantle agricultural policy altogether. Moreover, the 12 new Members admitted since 2003 do not yet have access to the full range of agricultural policies. In particular, small farmers there (as elsewhere) receive very little from the CAP. There is therefore considerable variety now among the measures actually used by the 27 members, leading to a fragmentation of this area of EU policy. The policy reform of 2003 was meant to cover a period of ten years. The CAP’s budget was frozen until 2013, by which time further reforms to the CAP were to be decided, as well as a new Multi-annual Financial Framework (the EU budget framework for 2014-20, sometimes called the ‘Financial Perspectives’). It was also expected that new global rules for agricultural trade would be in place, after the completion of the WTO’s Doha Round of negotiations. That outcome is now far from certain, but preparations have continued for changes in the CAP. The first of these was a set of proposals from the European Commission, called a ‘Health Check’, which led to a political deal among Member States in November 2008. More recently there has been a public consultation, which closed with a conference in Brussels in July 2010.