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Why is CAP so controversial? Essay

To many the ‘Common Agricultural Policy’ is undoubtfully one of the most controversial policies within the European Union. The initial reason for its creation in 1962 was to increase productivity and to address the concept of Europe never going ‘hungry’ or in other words living standards. Critics are arguing that the basis to which the policy was founded upon does not reflect issues needed to be tackled in the 21st century and should be scrapped. Pundits are arguing that CAP has evolved from the principles and aims set in 1962 to a more ‘protectionist’ policy in agriculture and rural areas. Clearly CAP controversial issues stand by disagreements of member state and its lack of success in reforms. Many political pundits have argued that a main controversy of the common agriculture policy is that through its aim of Europe not relying on imported food has lead to ‘mountains’ of surplus food and drinks. This has resulted in many products sold overseas or destroyed which in turn have caused he micro-economies in areas such as East Africa to be destroyed as they cannot compete.

Many humanitarian organisation have condemned the policy in relations to wasted food and have been labelled as ‘hypocrites’ when raising money through ‘live aid’. Another element where controversy has occurred is the economics of CAP. Many analysts argue that CAP is too expensive and thus making it unsustainable. It currently costs a third of the EU budget to keep it in running. Sceptics argue that France alone consumes 16.2% of the CAP budget, and only a mere 5% of EU citizens are working in agriculture. However, supporters of the policy claim that it creates a notion of price volatility causing a security for the future.

Yet many are arguing due to the Euro crisis and the current economic climate CAP should be abolished particularly due to the increase in expenditure of CAP. Political critics state that CAP is so controversial due to whom it is helping in member states as viewed in France which is a main player within Europe and thus making it difficult to not only abolish but merely reform especially due to ‘Agra lobbyists’ entrenched in the Social and economic committee. Therefore in is in France’s political and economic interest to maintain CAP as it is, however in 2013 a review shall occur but the outcome is not known. In the past, many believe controversy has occurred in elements of ‘subsidies’ to help farmers with irrigation has found a ‘loophole’ where many individuals are selling ‘subsidy rights’. Critics are arguing that this is a negative aspect of the policy. Many are also arguing potentially anyone could gain a subsidy right as demonstrated by Eton school.

In contrast some Europhiles state that CAP has helped to support the environment and rural areas. Some also dispute this claim and argue that many other policies cost more that CAP. Sceptics also claim that following the ‘big bang’ in 2004, following the 10 new member states such as Bulgaria would create an extra seven million new farmers to the already existing six million which would put a strain to the burden costing even more. However, others believe that the free market is unstable, without intervention prices would fluctuate and farmers would not be able to respond to consumer demand. Another mechanism of controversy is the device of ‘reform’ which has proven difficult due to ideological differences and the notion of compromise being difficult.

Thus in conclusion, whether CAP is controversial is purely ideological which may differ from not only ideology but vested interests’ of member states such as Britain and France. Many critics such as Thatcher argued that it undermined the concept of ‘free trade’ which resulted in the rebate of 1980. Others such as the French would state it sustains a living standard. Pundits also argue that it is not a uniform system as it benefits only afew of EU states. Sceptics also claim that when the EU attempted to deal with the issue of ‘food mountains’ it has created the issue of inefficiency of farmers thus undermining the model of capitalism emphasising the notion of competition.


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