The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), is the most complex example of common policy in the European Union. Introduced from 1958 to 1968 and still in existence today, it has brought controversy, dispute and political tension within the EU and with the rest of the world. It is also a remarkable example of the movement toward the unknown realm of integration in Europe. However, subsequent reforms have been slow in arrival and have not always achieved the success expected of them. With the new difficulty of enlargement, challenges will require yet more reform of the CAP. The changing situations and context of the policy will be considered in terms of its effectiveness, as will the reforms of the 1980s and 1990s. It will be seen that there is still much in need of discussion for this enormous common policy.
There were many motivations for the original formation of the CAP. Europe in 1958 was quite different to the Europe we know today. With the end of WW2 still in recent memory, there were still many effects being felt. In terms of agriculture, this was seen in the protection of farmers and nation specific rules and regulations as to production, imports and exports etc. There also remained some political mistrust between the central European countries, namely France and Germany . It was a combination of these factors that led to the incarnation of the CAP . In 1958, a large proportion of the population of Europe was employed in agriculture, and the industry accounted for a significant percentage of GDP, indeed as high as 27% of the population of France and 5% of total GDP amongst the original members (Belgium, Luxemburg, Holland, France, Germany and Italy) .
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...of the CAP and shown that in many ways it was flawed from the beginning and is only now starting to become effective. It is important that the momentum of the reforms is carried into this next chapter of the Union and is allowed to be introduced to the new members with freedom and fairness. Obviously some small adjustments will have to be made, just as they were for previous accessions , but the new nations must essentially be treated as equals. The prospects for the CAP will also improve as the sector becomes more efficient and smaller, with more land being reclaimed from farming and the increases in efficiency. The CAP was unprecedented in 1958, and will not lose its position of importance so long as the members and new candidates are willing to embrace the integration for which the CAP has always stood and move forward, without prejudice, into the 21st Century.
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