Case Study The Common Agricultural Policy

Criticisms of the CAP


Many developing countries are highly dependent on agriculture. The EU is club consisteing of some of the richest countries in the world, but the CAP restricts impoted food form some of the poorest countries in the world. Agriculture provides for the livelihood of 70% of the world's poorest people. As such, the subsidies in the CAP are charged with preventing developing countries from exporting agricultural produce to the EU on a level playing field.

Over production of food 'mountains

To perpetuate the viability of European agriculture in its current state, the CAP-supports the production of food which would be unprofitable on the open market. This leads to the European Union purchasing millions of tonnes of surplus output every year at the stated guaranteed price, and storing this produce in large quantities (leading to what critics have called 'butter mountains' and 'milk lakes'), before selling the produce wholesale to developing nations which undermines demand in those countries for domestically produced food.

Artificially high food prices

Europena live in a world of cjeap food, but critics of the CAP say it could be cheaper. CAP price guaratees to farmers creates artificially high food prices throughout the EU.High import tariffs (estimated at 18–28%) have the effect of keeping prices high by restricting competition by non-EU producers. It is estimated that public support for farmers in the EU countries costs a family of four on average nearly 1,000 US $ per year in higher prices and taxes. The European Commission has responded that the average EU household today spends 15% of its budget on food, compared to 30% in 1960.

Public health at the peril of agricultural policies

Public health professionals have also levelled criticism at the CAP and its support regimes, arguing that agricultural policy often disregards health. It is evident that supply outputs are generating widespread public health issues of obesity and diet-related diseases , such as cardio-vascular .disease (CVD), cancer and type II diabetes. Europeans are now as fat as Americans and obesity is killing more of them than ever. Cheap food and the production of highly subsidized meat is bad for health and bad for the environment. The Republic of Ireland is one of the worlds' largest polluters and a major contributor to climate change through the methane from it's dairy cows.

Equity among member states- The UK has contributed far more to CAP than the benefits justify.

Some countries in the EU have larger agricultural sectors than others, notably France and Spain, and consequently receive more money under the CAP. Countries such as the Netherlands and the United Kingdom have particularly urbanised populations and rely very little on agriculture as part of their economy (in the United Kingdom agriculture employs 1.6% of the total workforce and in the Netherlands 2.0%). The UK therefore receives less than half what France gets, despite a similar sized economy and population.

CAP 2004 beneficiaries