The EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is a dynamic policy which through successive reforms has been adapted to the new challenges faced by European agriculture, such as more sustainable use of natural resources, climate change, increased competition from global markets, and the need to maintain thriving rural areas across the EU.
The CAP must continue to ensure viable food production and a stable food supply, while taking into account food safety but also the rural economy, animal welfare, and social and environmental concerns.
The new CAP covers the period from 2014 to 2020. It has been a main priority of the six-month presidencies since the Commission presented its proposals in October 2011, and has required long hours of intense negotiations.
For the first time, the reform has been adopted under the ordinary legislative procedure, i.e. in co-decision with the European Parliament.
Final adoption of the legal texts by the Council took place on 16 December 2013.
The reform entered into force in January 2014. Many of the new rules will only apply from 2015 in order to give member states time to roll out the new policy and to inform and prepare farmers.
The CAP reform
The reform is fully in line with the fundamental principles of the Common Agricultural Policy. These will continue to focus on providing sufficient high-quality safe food at affordable prices to consumers in the EU and globally, while respecting EU rules on animal welfare and the environment, and ensuring a fair standard of living for European farmers.
The reformed CAP includes:
- the "greening" of farm payments, by introducing conditions for environmentally sound farming practices, such as crop diversification, and maintaining ecologically rich landscape features and a minimum area of permanent grassland
- more equity in the distribution of support in order to reduce the biggest differences in the levels of income support received by farmers across the EU. Moreover, the biggest farms will see a reduction in payments above a certain amount in the coming years
- better targeting of income support to farmers most in need, particularly young farmers, farmers in low income sectors and farmers in areas with natural constraints.
The CAP's pillar structure is maintained. Pillar 1 includes income support and market management measures, pillar 2 covers rural development.