The Common Agricultural Policy: have your say!

Food and society

The Common Agricultural Policy: have your say!

The Common Agricultural Policy: have your say!

In Brussels, a presentation of the results of the three-month public comment period launched by the European Commission in February 2017: thoughts, impressions and advice from a Europe connected to agriculture,

In support of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) during its ongoing modernisation and simplification process, the EC launched “The CAP: have your say”, a public consultation period designed to help Europe define the best strategies to be cultivated. The questionnaire’s results were presented for the first time in Brussels on July 7, 2017, well before the official publication of the policy, expected by the end of the year. “The public consultation provided the platform not alone for a huge response, but also for a diverse response from a wide range of stakeholders”, explained European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan in his opening address. He then added, “The CAP is a comprehensive policy which touches on every citizen of the European Union, no matter what our background. It is appropriate that as many and as many different voices are heard”. 

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A snapshot of “agricultural” Europe

Europeans’ interest in the CAP and its modernisation took shape via responses which the continent’s citizens sent directly to the European Commission and to the DG-AGRI (Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Development) in particular, and through a series of public campaigns, such as the Living Land Campaign, created to give voice to those who are linked, in one way or another, to the European agricultural sector. 

84.2% of public responses came from “single individuals” (both farmers and everyday citizens), with the remaining15.8% from organisations or associations. The countries which generated the greatest number of contributions were Germany, which came in first place, followed by France and Austria. 

The results so far aren’t enough

The CAP is meant to tackle many important challenges, with pressure on the environment and climate change both high on the list. These two topics were mentioned by more than half of those who wrote in, mentioned by 28% of those involved in agriculture in some way and by 32% of those representing organisations. Other issues included a fair standard of living for farmers, cited mostly by individual citizens involved in the sector, and the lack of work and growth, which organisations and associations were more sensitive to. 

Summarising, Europeans believe that the CAP as it stands today can only partially tackle current agricultural challenges, with everyday citizens tend to have a more negative outlook than those working in the industry. The hurdles for the farming industry are particularly evident in factors that can be measured economically: the lack of land or its cost, low profit margins, and administrative restrictions and requirements which are different than those for other, non-European countries. Lastly, the CAP’s response to environmental challenges seems to be the least appreciated by the public, especially in terms of the sustainable use of pesticides, the safeguarding of genetic diversity and biodiversity, and stopping soil degradation.


Objectives and suggestions

All those involved in the public consultation agreed on what the three main objectives of the CAP should be: the need for greater investment, growth and employment; a reduction of and adaptation to climate change; and the strengthening of the European market

Despite sharing the core principles, individual categories elicited different responses when people were asked to indicate the priority and level of action (local, national, European). So, even for the CAP of the future, we’ll need a great deal of effort in terms of modernisation and environmental sustainability, which spans from the attention given to water and attempts to resolve the tensions between economic and environmental interests, but we’ll also need to focus our efforts on improving the position and value of farmers within the agri-food chain. 


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