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Common agricultural policy (CAP)

The common agricultural policy (CAP) is an area in which competence is shared between the European Union (EU) and the EU Member States.

According to Article 39 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the CAP aims to:

  • increase agricultural productivity by promoting technical progress and ensuring the optimum use of the factors of production, in particular labour;
  • ensure a fair standard of living for farmers;
  • stabilise markets;
  • ensure the availability of supplies;
  • ensure reasonable prices for consumers.

With the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund (EAGF), the CAP helps the EU’s farmers to provide a secure supply of safe, healthy and affordable food by providing income support to farmers. It also funds measures to support and stabilise agricultural markets. The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) finances Member States’ rural development programmes.

Most decisions on agriculture are taken by means of the ordinary legislative procedure since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty (Articles 42(1) and 43(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union).

The CAP is now almost 60 years old. It is undergoing its sixth major reform, with the new CAP to apply from the beginning of 2023. Its share of the EU budget has steadily fallen in the last 30 years from 73% in 1985 to 31% for 2021-2027.

The new CAP aims to foster a sustainable and competitive agricultural sector that can support the livelihoods of farmers and provide healthy and sustainable food for society, along with vibrant rural areas.

Agriculture and rural areas are central to the European Green Deal, and the new CAP will be a key tool in reaching the ambitions of the farm-to-fork and biodiversity strategies.

Due to the delay in the negotiations of the new CAP, the start date was postponed to 1 January 2023. Regulation (EU) 2020/2220 (transitional regulation) was adopted in order to ensure the payment of farmers and other CAP beneficiaries in 2021 and 2022.