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Glossary of summaries

Common agricultural policy (CAP)

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

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;
  • assure the availability of supplies;
  • ensure reasonable prices for consumers.

With the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund (EAGF), the CAP funds direct payments to farmers and measures to regulate agricultural markets. The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) finances EU countries' 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 over 50 years old. It underwent its fifth major reform in 2013. Its share of the EU budget has steadily fallen in the last 30 years from 73 % in 1985 to 37.8 % for the period 2014-2020.