Common Agricultural Policy

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is a system of European Union agricultural subsidies and programmes. It represented 46.7% of the EU's budget, €49.8 billion in 2006.

The CAP combines a direct subsidy payment for crops and land which may be cultivated with price support mechanisms, including guaranteed minimum prices, import tariffs and quotas on certain goods from outside the EU. Reforms are currently underway reducing import controls and transferring subsidy to land stewardship rather than specific crop production (phased from 2004 to 2012). Detailed implementation of the scheme varies in different EU member countries.

By 2013, the share of traditional CAP spending is projected to decrease significantly to 32%, following a decrease in real terms in the current financing period. In contrast, the amounts for the EU's regional support represented 17% of the EU budget in 1988, but will more than double to reach almost 36% in 2013.

The aim of the CAP is to provide farmers with a reasonable standard of living, consumers with quality food at fair prices and to preserve rural heritage. However, there has been considerable criticism of CAP.

Read more about Common Agricultural Policy:  History, The CAP Today, Objectives, The CAP Reform Legislative Proposals, Criticism

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