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date: 22 January 2020

The Common Agricultural Policy: A Case of Embedded Liberalism

Summary and Keywords

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) can be fruitfully construed as an instance of European embedded liberalism, shaped by overlapping layers of domestic, European Union, and international policymaking. Such a conceptualization reveals the large role of domestic politics, even in an area like the CAP, where policy competences were early on extensively transferred to the supranational level. This in turn reflects the rather prominent role of national governments in the EU construction, compared with traditional federal polities. This role can be probed by analyzing two related scholarly agendas: an agenda devoted to the shaping of the CAP by member states (policy shaping); and an agenda devoted to the domestic impact of the CAP. Current policy challenges highlight our need to develop our understanding of: (1) the interaction between different types of CAP decisions at the EU level; (2) the domestic impact of the CAP; (3) and the experience of Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC).

Keywords: Common Agricultural Policy, Europeanization, embedded liberalism, CAP reform, European Union politics

The Treaty of Rome of 1957 founding the European Economic Communities (EEC) singled out agriculture as one of few areas for developing a common policy. The importance granted to agriculture reflected the pivotal role played by this sector in the reconstruction and modernization of post–World War II European economies. The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) outlined by the treaty aimed at: stabilizing agricultural markets and farm incomes; modernizing European agriculture; and delivering reliable and reasonably priced food to European consumers. While these objectives were broad and potentially contradictory, they clearly entailed a combination of negative integration and positive integration. That is: measures to dismantle the domestic barriers to agricultural trade so as to ensure the free and undistorted movement of agricultural goods across the member states (negative integration); and measures to establish new common rules at the supranational level (positive integration).

From the beginning, the CAP was the creature of the member states. The Treaty of Rome gave the national governments a clear role in CAP policymaking. They alone had the power to adopt legislation—in practice regulations for the most part. Member states later bolstered their institutional position following the Luxembourg crisis triggered by French President De Gaulle in 1965. The political compromise reached in January 1966 meant that the planned transition to qualified majority voting remained notional, the member states having de facto obtained a veto right in situations involving vital interests. Furthermore, the member states in 1969 and 1970 secured the council unilateral decision power on matters of agriculture expenditure through the designation of the latter as “compulsory expenditure.” The culture of the CAP remained thereafter characterized by consensual intergovernmentalism (Roederer-Rynning, 2015a). From this hegemonic position, the member states developed a highly institutionalized system of managed agricultural markets, which boosted European agriculture while essentially performing welfare functions for farmers.

From the mid-1980s on, a series of events gradually led the member states to redefine the CAP and their role in it. These events were endogenous as well as exogenous. The basic problem lay in the European model of price support, which generated a range of unintended and perverse effects—not least an endemic bias toward overproduction. Subsequently, the serial enlargement of the EU, strict budgetary constraints, and increasingly tense trade relations with third partners set a new path. Later, the Treaty of Lisbon ratified in 2009 has added an additional layer of change by breaking the legislative monopoly of the member states. Since 2009, the member states must adopt CAP legislation jointly with the European Parliament, in virtue of the application of the Ordinary Legislative Procedure (OLP). As a consequence of all these developments, the CAP has been a policy in flux.

This article examines the scholarly literature on the CAP through the prism of Europeanization. Europeanization refers to “the development and sustaining of systematic European arrangements to manage cross-border connections, such that a European dimension becomes an embedded feature which frames politics and policy within the European states” (Wallace, 2000, p. 370). Europeanization directs our attention to the multilevel character of EU policymaking, even in areas like the CAP, where policy competences have been extensively transferred to the supranational level. These multiple levels encompass the local-regional, to the global-international, through the national and the supranational-EU levels. In such a construction, the emergence of EU norms and rules may be a critical factor mediating the effects of globalization. These norms and rules come into being in a constant back-and-forth movement, whereby domestic actors have a rather more prominent place than in traditional federal systems (Sbragia, 1992): first in the process of the adoption of the CAP at the EU level (“policy shaping”), and second in the process of delivering the CAP at home (“policy taking”). After briefly presenting the framework of Europeanization (“Agriculture Europeanized: Into the Machine Room of EU Policymaking”), this article pulls together a wide array of scholarly works to develop a portrait of the CAP and recent CAP reforms as an illustration of the mutation of post-war “embedded liberalism” (“The CAP as a Policy of Embedded Liberalism”). It then examines these mutations through the “policy shaping” (“‘Shaping’ Embedded Liberalism: The CAP Between (Enlightened) Self-Interest and Collective Identities”) and “policy taking” (‘“Taking’ the CAP Home: The Domestic Management of Embedded Liberalism”) activities of domestic actors.

Agriculture Europeanized: Into the Machine Room of EU Policymaking

The Europeanization perspective emerged in the mid-1990s when research on European integration was turning its gaze toward domestic politics, as the machine room of EU policymaking. However, whereas European integration theories focused on domestic politics as a source of constraint in EU-level bargaining, the distinctive contribution of the Europeanization literature was to reverse the conceptual chain. It was interested in how EU-level arrangements became embedded in domestic politics (but see Risse et al., 2001, for a different understanding). One of the earliest definitions of Europeanization refers to “an incremental process re-orienting the direction and shape of politics to the degree that European Community political and economic dynamics become part of the organizational logic of national politics and policymaking” (Ladrech, 1994, p. 69). Developing this agenda, Radaelli (2004) a decade later enlarged the realm of observed domestic change to political discourses as well as political structures and policies. He, like Wallace (2000), highlighted the open-ended character of such encounters. Europeans “encounter globalization with particular experiences and with specific ‘management’ and institutional resources” (Wallace, 2000, p. 369). This means that there are invariably “important differences between European countries in the way that both European and global influences are handled”—a phenomenon that Wallace referred to as “domestication” (Wallace, 2000, p. 369).

Following the established terminology, this article distinguishes between two main research agendas under the Europeanization perspective. The “shaping” research agenda examines “how states upload their domestic preferences to the EU level” (i.e., how liberalism in agriculture is embedded, disembedded, reembedded at the EU level). The “taking” research agenda focuses on the “conditions and causal mechanisms through which the European Union triggers domestic changes in its member states and in third countries” (Börzel & Panke, 2013, p. 114) (i.e., the impact of the European agriculture regime on domestic agricultural change). Both agendas can accommodate a variety of theoretical and conceptual perspectives. For example, from a rationalist perspective, “shaping” is explained mainly with reference to the political and material power of big (coalitions of) member states (intergovernmentalist perspective); or the formal rules of decision making (rational institutionalism). Likewise, turning to the “taking” agenda, rationalists conceptualize Europeanization as an “emerging political opportunity structure that offers some actors additional resources with which to exert influence, while severely constraining the ability of others to pursue their goals” (Börzel & Panke, 2013, p. 114). By contrast, from a normative perspective, “the preferences of state and non-state actors are not completely fixed during the interaction, but can change in the wake of good argument” typically as a result of the involvement of norm entrepreneurs (supranational EU institutions, transnational advocacy networks, epistemic communities, etc.) (Börzel & Panke, 2013, p. 118). Likewise, turning to the “taking” agenda, normative perspectives consider Europeanization as the “emergence of new rules, norms, practices, and structures of meaning to which member states are exposed, and which they have to incorporate into their domestic structures” (Börzel & Panke, 2013, p. 115).

Based on this cursory presentation of the Europeanization, this article establishes a portrait of the CAP as a policy of embedded liberalism. This portrait, pulling together diverse strands of the CAP literature, highlights historically changing relationships between the tree levels of policymaking—the global, European, and domestic. In turn, change can be explored through taking stock of the literature on the “shaping” and the “taking” agendas of the CAP.

The CAP as a Policy of Embedded Liberalism

Contrary to popular views of the CAP as a policy monolith immune to change, the CAP is a policy in flux. Change can be grasped by the evolving constellations of the domestic, European, and global levels. If we limit ourselves to the period following the signature of the Treaty of Rome in the late 1950s, we can distinguish between two main “movements.”

Embedding Liberalism (1964–1984)

The classic period of the CAP spanned the two decades from the pivotal agreement on the common price on cereals in 1964 to the adoption of the dairy quotas, the first big reform of the CAP, in 1984. The literature on this period gives a relatively consensual picture of the CAP as a regime of “embedded liberalism” (Daugbjerg & Roederer-Rynning, 2014). The expression is borrowed from the international relations literature to refer to the postwar Western economies that flourished under the umbrella of the multilateral Bretton Woods institutions (Ruggie, 1982; Steinberg, 2006). Embedded liberalism epitomized a balancing act between economic liberalism and social welfare. In European agricultural affairs, this period marked the development of policy regime, which was both strongly Europeanized in its policy instrumentation and strongly embedded in domestic politics. The domestic, European, and international layers of this regime of “embedded liberalism” are well documented, although it is not always easy to synthesize this literature.

The domestic layer of this period is probably the best documented but also the most difficult to synthesize due to the large number of national and regional case studies and linguistic barriers. Tracy’s Agriculture in Western Europe (Tracy, 1982) is a fascinating comparative study of the political economy of agriculture in four European countries (the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Denmark) over an entire century (1880s to the 1980s). This study shows the variety of national responses to the great challenges of the 20th century (from 1880s globalization to postwar modernization, through the depression of the 1930s), and their enduring grip in the domestic politics of agriculture. There is a wealth of case studies of farm organizations, and farmers—state relations in individual countries (e.g., Self & Storing, 1963; Howarth, 1969; Ackermann, 1970; Berger, 1972; Averyt, 1977; Allum, 1980; Andrlik, 1981; Muller, 1984; Cox et al., 1987; Hervieu & Lagrave, 1992; Flynn, Lowe, & Winter, 1996; Sheingate, 2001). The theme of (neo)corporatism is cross-cutting. Keeler’s Politics of Neocorporatism in France (Keeler, 1987) provides not only a detailed portrait of farm politics in France during this period but also a more general theory of farm neocorporatism.

In Europe, as elsewhere in the Western world, embeddedness reflected the role of farmers and rural communities in national economies and political life (Keeler, 1987; Knudsen, 2009; Hervieu & Laggrave, 1992; Tracy, 1982; Fennell, 1997). The European version of embeddedness was the “price support” system: a system of micro-management of markets through commodity regimes combining various forms of protection vis-à-vis the rest of the world (import levies and other restrictions on imports; export subsidies) and intervention prices on the internal market. Besides being protectionist, this approach relied on a sophisticated system of administrative management. Neville-Rolfe (1984), Tracy (1982, 1997), Fennell (1997), and Knudsen (2009) provide comprehensive studies of this period, including the development of price support, structural policy, and commercial policy. These authors have different takes on the topic, but all relate to the problem of making several national policies into one. Unfortunately, there has been no attempt so far to synthesize their insights. What we know from the literature is that during this period, the CAP policy regime fundamentally relied on regulatory policy tools (e.g., price) to perform essentially redistributive functions in a kind of emerging European welfare state regime for farmers (Muller, 1995; Rieger, 2005; Knudsen, 2009).

The overarching condition of embedded liberalism in agricultural affairs was a permissive consensus at the international level on relaxing the rules of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) for agriculture. Though critical, this condition of embedded liberalism remains rather unexplored. The US government in 1950 applied for and obtained an unlimited waiver on selected GATT provisions for agricultural trade, which paved the way for protected regional farm regimes in Western economies. But the politics of this permissive consensus has remained conspicuously absent in domestic and European debates on the CAP. Likewise, the literature on the CAP covering this period has tended to bracket out the international context as if it were nonexistent. Political and scholarly debates have thus contributed to perpetuate the myth that the GATT was never meant to apply to agriculture—that the CAP was exempted from GATT constraints (Legras, 1993).

This “first movement” of the CAP thus yields the picture of a curious welfare state, forged at the intersection of domestic and international politics. As the literature shows, the main paradox of the CAP, during this period, was that this regime relied exclusively on regulatory instruments (e.g., price) to perform essentially redistributive functions (Muller, 1995; Rieger, 2005). Wine lakes, butter mountains, beef wars, and in fact growing income disparities among farmers showed the impossibility of this squaring of the circle.

Dis-, Re-, Embedding Liberalism (1984–)

The mid-1980s opened a period of change, materialized by a flurry of CAP reforms, starting with the dairy quota reform, the first serious reform of the CAP. There is a considerable literature on these reforms (Petit et al., 1987; Grant, 1997; Ackrill, 2000; Garzon, 2006; Cunha & Swinbank, 2011; Swinnen, 2008, 2015; Josling & Swinbank, 2013). This literature traces the shift from price support to direct payments in the McSharry reform; the changing levels of decoupling of these payments; and the evolving relationship between market policy and structural policy, called rural development with the Agenda 2000 agreement on agriculture. The major political developments framing or structuring these reforms are located at the global and the European levels, and there is a debate in the literature as to the power and impact of these drivers.

At the global level, the inception of the Uruguay Round of the General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) meant a new, less permissive, international context for the CAP. For the first time, the liberalization of agricultural trade was a top priority of the GATT. There is a considerable literature on this topic; this literature sheds some light on the set of factors leading to this new trade agenda, as well as its interdependence with farm reform in Europe (see, e.g., Avery, 1993; Moyer, 1993; Paarlberg, 1993, 1997; Josling, Tangermann, & Warley, 1996; Patterson, 1997; Coleman & Tangermann, 1999; Hennis, 2005; Daugbjerg & Swinbank, 2009). On the origins of the Uruguay Round, scholars seem to agree that the protectionist agricultural policies of developed countries contributed to volatile world markets due to the structural dumping of agricultural surpluses, and that this economic situation was a factor of conflict and instability in the global trade system (Moyer & Josling, 1990; Le Héron, 1993; Gardner, 1996; Loyat & Petit, 1999). Political factors, such as preserving the benefits of domestic farm reform, also drove non-European countries, under the leadership of the United States and within the Cairns group of countries, to push agricultural trade liberalization on the global trade agenda (Josling, 1998). The main consequence of this new international context was to remind EU decision makers (and their public) abruptly of the fact that the CAP is constrained by broader international norms (Legras, 1993). The literature has debated the material dimension (Paarlberg, 1993, 1997; Patterson, 1997; Nello & Pierani, 2010) and the ideational dimension (Daugbjerg & Swinbank, 2009; Alons, 2014) of this new international context. Scholars have also argued that this context provided the European Commission with new entrepreneurial leverage (Coleman & Tangermann, 1999; Vahl, 1997).

These global developments materialized at a moment of change for the European Community/European Union. The literature identifies a range of endogenous challenges for the CAP during these years. These challenges include, to name the most important: mounting budgetary constraints (Moyer & Josling, 1990); the serial enlargement of the European Union (Nello, 2002; Tangermann, 2012); and the recurrent food scares of the 1990s and 2000s, including not least the “mad cow” epidemic (Westlake, 1997). Some of these challenges are linked, for example enlargement and budgetary constraints. As Moyer and Josling (1990, p. 209) remind us, in general “a budget crisis creates a zero-sum bargaining game, which in turn changes the power and incentives of the various actors”; but in Europe, these redistributive conflicts “have generally been more obvious in the EC, which cannot legally run a budget deficit.” Each enlargement has manifestly raised the redistributive stakes, all the more so when new members have been relatively poor and with large agricultural communities. The food scare challenge is related to CAP reform not through issues of budget transfers and redistribution but through issues of institutional structures and organizations (Westlake, 1997; Carson, 2000).

In this “second movement” of the CAP, scholars are thus grappling with change, and with the need to conceptualize its source, extent, and significance. Is the EU still acting as a filter of globalization in agriculture? Or is the CAP illustrating a growing disembbededness of economic liberalism? What are the factors shaping this transformation? Will this restructuring result in the renationalization of the CAP? In spite of enduring scholarly controversies on the endogenous and exogenous sources of change, and the growing political complexity of agricultural politics in the European Union, there is a certain degree of consensus among scholars that the CAP continues to offer European agriculture a significant degree of protection from global pressures owing to the “defensive import” of international constraints (Daugbjerg & Roederer-Rynning, 2014); and that adaptation inevitably entails a certain degree of renationalization (Kjeldahl & Tracy, 1994) and policy flexibility (Henke et al., 2018).

“Shaping” Embedded Liberalism: The CAP Between (Enlightened) Self-Interest and Collective Identities

Narratives of CAP-shaping draw on a variety of theoretical traditions, which in turn can be further differentiated into various types of arguments. These narratives have made bold, potentially debate-generating claims. However, perhaps because these narratives have been rooted in different fields of the scholarly literature, these debates have often been latent and implicit. In the following sub-sections, we stake out the different perspectives within the rationalist and the normative traditions, highlight the main lines of debate, and finally relate these strands of scholarship to the broader theme of embedded/disembedded liberalism in agriculture.

Rationalist Perspectives: Bargaining, Rent-Seeking, and the Joint-Decision Trap

The rationalist literature yields three main narratives. The intergovernmental narrative is classically associated with Moravcsik’s work, specifically the seminal book on critical junctures in European integration (Moravcsik, 1998) but also two subsequent articles on Gaullist France’s European choices (Moravcsik, 2000a, 2000b). Moravcsik wrote these pieces at a time of crisis for grand intergovernmental theories of European integration. He aimed at renewing the state of the European integration scholarship; in fact, he called his own intergovernmentalist perspective revisionist. Moravcsik’s main contribution was to reconceptualize European integration as commercial—rather than geopolitical—diplomacy. Grand bargains between member states propelled integration. These bargains originated in member states’ concern for increased economic efficiency; they resulted in compromises sealing exchanges of concessions among member states. From this perspective, the CAP embodies a grand bargain between France and Germany, in which France demanded (and obtained) a common market for agricultural products in exchange for conceding to Germany a common market for industrial goods.

While widely acclaimed and hugely influential, Moravcsik’s argument has not been immune to criticism. Within a rationalist perspective, it is worth noting that Moravcsik’s high level of methodological ambition has raised a debate about his historiographic sources and uses of them (Lieshout et al., 2004). Moravcsik’s account raises the intriguing implication that France should have forgone benefits from an emerging industrial market while Germany would have played a secondary role in shaping the CAP. Pinder has argued that the pivotal 1964 price agreement reflected the Germans’ preference for a high price, and “not only helped . . . protect German farmers from French competition, but was also a cause of the general over-production that was eventually to impose such problems on the Community and its members, including France” (Pinder, 1991, p. 81). Finally, Moravcsik’s liberal intergovernmentalism might downplay the role of vested interests and clientelistic politics driving agricultural politics at the national level (Keeler, 1987; Sheingate, 2001). In fact, agriculture has often been a textbook example of corporatist relations at the national level—not traditional plural–liberal relations. This is where the second narrative becomes relevant.

The intergovernmentalist view of the CAP tends to attribute considerable agency to the member states, particularly big ones, which are able to upload their preferences to the EU level. Of course, compromises have to be struck and concessions made. But supranational actors have little say in the course of events; and smaller states either are not affected by these grand bargains—or, if they are, these states can seek influence in like-minded coalitions and compensation through side payments. In the end, intergovernmentalist perspectives view international organizations such as the European Union as an extension of the public interest (i.e., in fact an extension of national sovereignty). However, not all rationalist interpretations share this sanguine view of the world.

The public choice narrative questions exactly this “assumption that governments aim at ‘the public interest’” (Vaubel, 1986, p. 39); and it has claimed to find in the CAP a good illustration of the “collusive” or even “conspiratorial” (the expression is originally from Adam Smith) character of international cooperation. From this perspective, the CAP is an example of the “dirty activities” that the European Communities has “specialized” in (Vaubel, 1986, p. 48). Pooling agricultural policy competences at the supranational level enabled national governments to “shirk domestic responsibility for unpopular policies; to ‘sell’ such policies as part of an international bargain; and to protect themselves—whether intentionally or not—against superior performance of foreign governments” (Vaubel, 1986, p. 45). Likewise, Nedergaard’s (1995) political economy explanation interprets the CAP as the fruit of a collusion between farmers’ political rent-seeking and bureaucrats’ preferences for self-aggrandizement. The CAP thus reflects three main asymmetries: national organizational asymmetries between consumers and producers; European institutional asymmetries between well-developed bureaucratic structures representing particular interests (e.g., agriculture services of the European Commission), weakly developed legislative structures representing the common interests (e.g., European Parliament up to the 1990s), and international asymmetries allowing European producers to “transfer” the costs of the CAP to third countries (Nedergaard, 1995, p. 140; Conceição-Heldt, 2011). While influential, this perspective better reflects the classic era of CAP policymaking than the CAP of the 1990s and 2000s. It does not help understand the series of changes that happened in the last decades (Lynggaard, 2007).

Finally, while both the liberal-intergovernmentalist and the public choice narratives tend to downplay institutions, a last strand of rationalist scholarship has highlighted the power of institutions in shaping strategies and outcomes. Scharpf’s rational-institutionalist narrative has bequeathed a portrait of the CAP as the paradigmatic case of “joint-decision traps” (Scharpf, 1988). Joint-decision traps are decision-making systems that produce suboptimal policy outcomes, if not policy failures. As a comparativist, Scharpf was interested in comparing institutional patterns across multilevel polities, including the European Union and national federations. According to him, two types of formal rules predisposed joint-decision systems to gridlock: the rule of unanimity decision making and the joint involvement of decision makers at different levels of decision making. The latter is reminiscent of the public choice’s view of international cooperation as “collusive” behavior. In addition to these two formal rules, Scharpf also pointed out the importance of an informal factor: the style of decision making. While a problem-solving style emphasizing collective values could be expected to mitigate gridlock, a bargaining style centered on redistributive outcomes would likely compound it. Kay (2003) and Ackrill and Kay (2006) later advanced a path-dependency thesis, which is arguably compatible with this interpretation. Their argument is that countries who benefit financially from the policy have a vested interest in status quo and that national net budgetary positions therefore go a long way toward explaining the path dependent character of the CAP (Ackrill & Kay, 2006). Here again, we find an illustration of Scharpf’s idea that a combination of redistributive stakes and consensual decision making glue the member states to the status quo. As in the case of the public choice approaches, this thesis suffers from the fact that it is better at explaining status quo than change (Roederer-Rynning, 2011).

In sum, there are big differences between liberal intergovernmentalist, public choice, and rationalist-institutionalist narratives. Not only do they have different views of the respective role of agency and structure, they also rest on different assumptions about the nature of preferences of public actors. While both intergovernmentalist and public choice accounts privilege agency over institutions, they differ over the view of governmental preferences: the substantive expression of political pluralism, for intergovernmentalists; the procedural expression of rent-seeking and bureaucratic politics, for public choice theorists. What all these accounts share, of course, is a consequentialist view of rationality. By contrast, the type of accounts this article now turns to is based on a view of collective preferences as embodying ideas of appropriateness.

Normative Perspectives: Public Policy Paradigms and the Constitutionalization of EU Politics

It has become customary since the mid-1990s to distinguish between different paradigms of agricultural policy, reflecting different sets of policy goals and beliefs, instruments, and instrument settings. The notion of policy paradigm has its roots in a broad comparative policy literature on public policy paradigms in postwar liberal economies (Jobert & Muller, 1987; Hall, 1993). Policy paradigms are “highly coherent system[s] of ideas . . . institutionalized into . . . procedure[s]” which specify “what the economic world [i]s like, how it [i]s observed, which goals [a]re attainable through policy, and what instruments should be used to attain them” (Hall, 1993, p. 279). Paradigms not only draw our attention to the values and norms that guide policy and favor certain types of policy instruments (Hall, 1993), they also point to different images of the relationship between a given policy sector and the broader economy (Jobert & Muller, 1987).

Drawing on these insights, Coleman and his colleagues analyzed agricultural policies in terms of a basic dichotomy between the “state-assistance” paradigm and the “market-liberal” paradigm. The state-assistance paradigm is also referred to as the “developmental” paradigm, the “dependence” paradigm, or the paradigm of “agricultural exceptionalism” (Daugbjerg & Swinbank, 2008). This paradigm is premised on the idea that agriculture is a special or “exceptional” sector of the economy due to the unpredictability of basic conditions of production and the ensuing volatility of agricultural commodity prices. This basic condition justifies special intervention from the state in the form of subsidies, credit assistance, income support, etc. In addition, the state-assistance (or developmental) paradigm often emphasizes the social or collective functions of agriculture (Coleman et al., 1996; Skogstad, 1998). By contrast, the “market-liberal” paradigm “articulates an approach to agricultural policy that reflects market liberal principles, which much less concern for social cohesion” (Coleman, 1998, p. 647) and a less interventionistic role for the state. There is a broad consensus in the literature that the developmental paradigm has been the defining agricultural policy paradigm of the 20th century, not just in Europe but in most industrialized countries and that the mid-1980s ushered in a turn away from state assistance. Furthermore, most analysts argue that the turn toward market-liberal principles in the mid-1980s has not led to policy convergence across industrialized countries (Coleman et al., 1996; Coleman, 1998; Daugbjerg & Swinbank, 2012).

There are now three ongoing debates. The first debate concerns the nature of the ideas and images underpinning the CAP as a paradigm of state assistance. We note the existence of two contrasting narratives in the literature, which are potentially compatible with the interpretation of the CAP as a paradigm of state assistance. On the one hand, there is a “welfarist” narrative. Accordingly, “the CAP was designed in a similar way [to pre-existing national agricultural policies] in order to reach certain welfarist objectives already framed in national agricultural policies” (Knudsen, 2009, p. 9). Thus understood, the CAP is part and parcel of the Western European welfare state and its “moral economy” (Rieger, 1996). It invokes a conception of solidarity between farmers and non-farmers originally embedded in the national community then extended to the European level. On the other hand, there is a “productionist” narrative, emphasizing the ideational primacy of agricultural production and export (e.g., France’s vocation exportatrice), regardless of the social relations attached to agricultural production. This type of narrative may emphasize the role of epistemic communities (Fouilleux, 1996; Fouilleux, 2003; Fouilleux, Brics, & Alpha, 2017). Alternatively, it may also bring to the center complex relationships between power relations and notions of solidarity within the farm sector. For example, Delorme evoked the conception of solidarity that “led intensive livestock producers to demand higher prices on meat products rather than a decrease in the price of cereals” (Delorme, 1990, p. 43). Such narratives raise the question of whether ideas act as principled guidelines for action and ideational constraints (Vleuten & Alons, 2012) or rhetorical justifications and discursive strategies (Zwaan & Alons, 2015). In the latter case, the productionist narrative complements a public choice interpretation of the CAP as the “policy dustbin” for unpopular and self-serving policy schemes.

The second debate concerns the significance of the CAP reforms for the core tenets of the state-assistance paradigm. Scholars disagree as to where the CAP is headed, and whether a new paradigm has taken hold. Some have argued that CAP reforms, albeit sometimes far-reaching, have not altered the core “exceptionalist” values and norms shaping the CAP (Daugbjerg, 1999, 2009; and recently an extension in Daugbjerg & Feindt, 2017). Others have claimed that the reforms of the 1990s, considered together rather than one by one, have opened up the boundaries of CAP policymaking (Lynggaard, 2007) and brought about a shift from the old paradigm of dependent agriculture toward a new paradigm of multifunctionality (Garzon, 2006). Multifunctionality became popular in the mid-2000s amid the highly politicized context of the global trade talks of the Doha Round and the concurrent adoption of the EU Fischler Reform: Garzon grants a prominent role to global trade talks as an engine of change. However, she clearly views multifunctionality as more than a tactical change. In this politicized context, resolving this disagreement requires that scholars better understand the empirical universe of multifunctionality and operate on the basis of a clear and explicit definition of policy paradigms and paradigmatic shifts. There is a rather disparate body of literature on multifunctionality (Bohmann et al., 1999; Moyer & Josling, 2002; Delorme, 2003; Potter & Tilzey, 2007; Dibden, Potter, & Cocklin, 2009). This literature shows the importance of epistemic communities in the development of this notion; it also shows that the meaning of multifunctionality differs across international arenas. For example, besides being introduced in the European Union’s CAP in the Fischler Reform of 2003 as a way of justifying continued public intervention in agriculture, multifunctionality has also featured in the work of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) as a way of exploring a greater involvement of private actors in agriculture (OCDE, 2001; OECD, 2005). It would be interesting to explore further how the development of scientific indicators shape policy discussions on multifunctionality.

Finally, the third debate concerns the link between macro-level institutional change and meso-level policy dynamics. Clearly, the debate on the multifunctionality of agriculture goes to the heart of the sectorized nature of agriculture policy, but much of the literature has de facto focused on the meso level of analysis: If only to point out the dilution of sectoral boundaries as a result of inter-sectoral linkages and external developments (Roederer-Rynning, 2003; Lynggaard, 2007). Recently in the 2010s, however, the debate has turned to the macro-level of analysis. Exploring the changes brought about by the Treaty of Lisbon, Roederer-Rynning and Schimmelfennig (2012) advanced a constitutionalization thesis. The authors argue that the extension of co-decision to agriculture was a significant and puzzling phenomenon, which cannot be explained with reference to policy-specific dynamics. Rather, the parliamentarization of agricultural politics was “part of a broader process of legal rationalization and democratic constitutionalization in the constitutional Convention, which prevailed over the resistance of vested policy interests” (Roederer-Rynning & Schimmelfennig, 2012, p. 965). Interestingly, the constitutional reform of CAP policymaking was “not automatic or unconstested. Members of the Convention were aware of the political sensitivity of agriculture and initially sought to preserve some of its intergovernmental decision-making features” (Roederer-Rynning & Schimmelfennig, 2012, p. 964). What is at stake here is the confrontation of a well-established identity narrative, focused on farm exceptionalism, and the emerging identity of the European Union as a rules-based polity shaped by widely shared standards of democratic legitimacy. Lessons from the first CAP reform under co-decision suggest that CAP decision makers are at cross-pressures from these meso-level (sectoral) and macro-level (constitutional) constraints (Swinnen, 2015; Roederer-Rynning, 2015b). In the post-Lisbon era, researchers must explore more systematically how these different levels interact in the making of contemporary CAP policy.

Rationalist and Normative Perspectives and (Dis-, Re-) Embedded Liberalism in Agriculture

Clearly, beyond their differences, rationalist and normative perspectives are compatible with a view of embedded liberalism as institutionalized segmentation. As is well known, agriculture ministers have had their own Council of Ministers—the Council of Agriculture Ministers (or the so-called Agriculture Council)—whose work is prepared by a Special Committee Agriculture (SCA), rather than the Committee of the Permanent Representations (COREPER) as is the case for most other policy areas. Likewise, agriculture expenditure was earmarked as a result of a 1969 intergovernmental agreement designating it as “compulsory expenditure” (in contrast to “non-compulsory expenditure”). Besides shielding agriculture expenditure in the overall community budget, this rule also ensured insulated agriculture expenditure from the budgetary purview of the EP (Pinder, 1991, pp. 146–147). Scholars of the CAP, regardless of their allegiance to the rationalist or the normative tradition, have long noted that institutional segmentation has protected agriculture policymakers in EU institutions from the pressure of financial ministers and potentially antagonistic societal interests. Institutional insulation allowed the system of price support to endure beyond optimality, fueling an uncontrollable surge of agriculture expenditure (Pearce, 1981; Swinbank, 1989; Daugbjerg, 1999). It also compounded the so-called mad cow epidemic, ultimately leading to a significant reorganization of the agricultural services of the European Commission and a new division of labor between the EP’s committees for the environment and for agricultural affairs (Westlake, 1997; Roederer-Rynning, 2003).1 And in post-Lisbon, again, it has proved strong enough to shield change from the pressure of environmental concerns in the first CAP reform under co-decision (Roederer-Rynning, 2015b, p. 353). Likewise, the normative and rationalist traditions point to some similar mechanisms and circumstances loosening institutional segmentation and paving the way for a re-institutionalization of agricultural policy along new lines. One of the most frequently noted conditions for change to happen is the existence of entrepreneurial leadership—this condition appears in both the rationalist and the normative literatures. Entrepreneurs exploit contradictions between policymaking and institutional realms (Coleman & Tangermann, 1999; Greer & Hind, 2012), and they help shape new ideas or preferences (Lynggaard, 2007). Entrepreneurs cultivate constituencies for change (Nedergaard, 2008). Finally, there is a broad agreement among scholars that change in agricultural policy is incremental and evolutionary rather than discrete and dramatic (Roederer-Rynning, 2011; Daugbjerg & Swinbank, 2016).

“Taking” The CAP Home: The Domestic Management of Embedded Liberalism

Clues about the domestic impact of the CAP must be found in a growing but still disparate literature, dealing with a range of questions. Taken collectively, these studies cluster around three main themes: domestic implementation of the CAP (policy dimension); the European dimension of state–farmer relations (politics dimension); and the changing territorial politics of the CAP (polity dimension).2

Policy: From One CAP Several?

For a long time, the study of the implementation of the CAP was more or less de facto limited to a study of comitology procedures, practices, and outcomes. This is because the CAP, as a common policy long focused on market regulation, was “the supranational policy par excellence within the EU” (Lowe et al., 2002, p. 4) (i.e., “one of the most integrated policies with regard to its political foundations and its institutional apparatus”) (Saurugger, 2003, p. 113). Regulations were the pivotal legal instruments of the CAP, which did not allow for national variation in implementation. There is likely no comprehensive study of CAP comitology. If we want to understand to what extent national politics permeated this cycle of CAP policymaking, we thus need to retrieve information from general studies of comitology. Some insights gleaned from this literature suggest that agriculture has from the beginning been an area of intensive administrative activity; and given such activity, the procedures of consultation have long been “clear and reasonably coherent” in agriculture, in comparison with other sectors (Dogan, 1997, p. 33). Recent accounts confirm that agriculture remains a key sector in terms of EU-level administrative activity. In 2016, there were 17 comitology committees affiliated with the commission’s Directorate-General (DG) for Agriculture and Rural Development, and these committees alone amounted to 49% of all EU comitology meetings (Blom-Hansen, 2018). Comitology has developed by virtue of the fact that the normative execution of primary acts is entrusted to EU institutions whereas the administrative execution remains with the member-states (Blumann, 1996; Adam, 2001). Under normal circumstances, the power of the commission is quite large in comitology due to the favorable institutional setup.3 It remains unclear how the CAP reforms of the 1990s and 2000s have affected the balance of power between the commission and the member-states (Roederer-Rynning, 2011). The introduction of direct payments has triggered a series of effects potentially contradictory effects. The council has resorted increasingly to differentiated implementation to resolve political deadlocks in an enlarged European Union. This points toward a certain decentralization of the CAP. Simultaneously, however, member states have turned toward the commission for controlling regulation, using its extensive comitology powers. This points toward a strengthening of the commission in the comitology procedure.

The larger question, of course, concerns the growing level of flexibility allowed to the member states within the framework of successive CAP reforms. National diversity has always existed in the framework of the CAP (Tracy, 1994, p. 2): it existed in market policy, through an opaque system of state aids and the application of agrimonetary compensation; it existed of course in socio-structural policy (and by extension rural development), through devolution and shared competence. But while the desire to discriminate in favor of own producers once drove “(unilateral) national policy measures,” it is now rather the need for flexibility and targeting that seems to be driving policy differentiation at the national level (Wilkinson, 1994, p. 22). In the Ciolos reform of 2013, the member states thus won two important victories in their search for national flexibility. First, they secured a flexible implementation of the very concept of “greening,” which was the cornerstone of the commission’s new farm payments proposals. Second, they secured an expansive menu for choice for the disbursement of direct payments within an agreed framework of “national envelopes.”4 Researchers have started to chart the “map of flexibility” (Henke et al., 2018 on the Ciolos reform; see also Sorrentino, Henke, & Severini, 2011 on the Fischler Reform). Yet no definitive pattern has emerged yet. We know that the member states’ response to increased opportunities for flexibility has been “extremely heterogeneous” (Henke et al., 2018, p. 404). As Henke and his colleagues have put it, very little of the old model of the CAP remains, and this “progressively widens gaps for the national (and sometimes subnational) governments to filter into them and gain space at the expense of the EU institutions” (Henke et al., 2011, p. 12). Intriguingly, however, these scholars have recently “conclude[d] that far from being a sneaky policy of re-nationalization, flexibility can be key in sustaining the ambitious and strategic project of the whole integration in the enlarged European Union, where countries’ incentives to stay together are becoming increasingly weaker . . . and the socioeconomic-geopolitical context ever more heterogeneous” (Henke et al., 2018, p. 416). This assessment contrasts with previous claims that the CAP after the Fischler Reform has entered “at least in the medium term, . . . a variable speed approach” (Greer, 2005, p. 209) and that the CAP is “undergo[ing] an element of re-nationalization” visible in the fact that “no two of the ‘old’ (EU15) Member States are applying the reform in exactly the same way” (Daugbjerg & Swinbank, 2005, p. 10).

Politics: The European Dimension of State–Farmer Relations

There is a rich literature on state–farmer relations at the national level. This literature points to a fairly constant pattern of interest intermediation in Western Europe at least. The hallmarks of this pattern are: strong, quasi-institutionalized, and exclusive partnerships between the state and farmers; powerful national peak farm associations, often generously subsidized by the state; and the exclusion of nonfarm from agricultural policymaking. The state, in return for protection, could count on the support of farmers to become a stable (and generally conservative) segment of the electorate, undertake the necessary restructuring of this sector, while delegating to farm leaders the responsibility of administering painful farm reforms. In theoretical terms, these accounts were captured in frameworks of (neo)corporatism (Muller, 1984; Keeler, 1987), policy community (Smith, 1990; Daugbjerg, 1997), or simply vested interests (Self & Storing, 1963). In the mid-1980s, a number of studies challenged the usefulness of these accounts by pinpointing fractures in state–farmer partnerships (e.g., Berger, 1985; Culpepper, 1993; Wilson, 1987 on France; and Jordan et al., 1994 on the United Kingdom). Interestingly, these critics have not devoted much attention to the “European” dimension of state–farmer relations, even though we have accounts of (more or less cohesive) farm policy networks at the European level (Daugbjerg, 1999).

Milward was the first to problematize the nation-centric bias of this literature. His thesis, developed in his seminal The European Rescue of the Nation-State (Milward, 1992), is that European integration represented a “further state in the reassertion of the role of the nation-state” in postwar Europe. Thus, in agriculture, Milward claims, “it took Europeanization of the regime of protection and subsidization . . . to prevent the income gap [with other sectors of the economy] from widening before 1979. Without Europeanization the political power of the agricultural interests would have been too weak even to achieve this result” (Milward, 1992, p. 36). Milward thus suggests that one of the major effects of Europe in the agricultural sector, paradoxically, was to sustain national agrarianism well after the economic bases of farmers’ power had crumbled. In Wallace’s terminology, what Milward describes here is the domestication of the CAP, seen from the perspective of state–farmer relations.

Research on the more recent period has yielded conflicting insights into the domestication of the CAP on state-farmers relations. At least three types of arguments can be identified. One argument is that of path dependence: there is no change in national patterns. As Saurugger argues (2003, p. 331), “The practices and strategies deployed by interest groups at the national level are enduring.” Another argument is that of mild erosion of farm groups. As Daugbjerg and Just (2003, p. 148) wrote, the main effect of Denmark’s entry in the European common market was to “weaken . . . undeniably the information monopoly of farm organizations”; yet “the administrative changes, which occurred . . . were not as significant as they appear to be . . . the model of organization of agricultural policy domain changed from delegated administration to corporative management.” A third argument, in line with the domestication thesis, is that the CAP contributed to sustaining the power of agricultural interests. Grant (2005, p. 31) remarked in the case of the British state, that the “hollowing out” of the state had long been “delayed in agriculture . . . in part . . . because the subsidy regime was entrenched in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), a politically embedded policy that was difficult for the UK government to change—however they might want to.” Roederer-Rynning (2002, 2007a, 2007b) showed in the case of France that the impact of Europe on domestic farm corporatism varied over time, depending on the institutional setup of the CAP and the ability of successive French governments to forge points of contact with reform-oriented actors at EU level. Egdell and Thomson (1999, p. 126) noted that on occasion the European Commission “encouraged lobbying by environmental NGOs” in order to “improve control over the implementation of the [agri-environmental] policy within Member States.”

In sum, the insights generated by this literature suggest that we should pay more careful attention to the multilevel underpinnings of domestic systems of farm interest intermediation. We need more systematic knowledge, not only of the patterns of relationship in Western Europe but also in Central and Eastern Europe, where the research is lacking. There, it seems, the working hypothesis is that “path dependence,” understood as “the continuation of old patterns of elite participation, or pivatisation into the hand of the old nomenclatura,” continues to shape agri-environmental change and the adoption of the CAP acquis (Gatzweiler, 2005, p. 139).

Polity: The CAP and the Territorial Reconfiguration of the State

Scholars have also examined the interaction between the CAP and state structure. One issue in focus has been whether and how different state structures affect policy efficiency and the possibility for agency capture at the national level (Sheingate, 2001; but also see Scharpf, 1988). These works were anchored in well-established agendas in the field of public policy and comparative politics. Recently, another group of studies has reversed the research question to explore the impact of the CAP on the structure of the member states. These works are empirically disparate and theoretically eclectic. They have not yet coalesced into a distinct research agenda, even though a prominent theme is the extent to which European integration in agriculture has promoted regionalization, understood broadly as the (political and economic) emancipation of peripheries vis-à-vis established centers of power. Common to many of these studies is the observation that the European attempt to “regionalize” agricultural policy through its rural development pillar (pillar 2) has materialized at a tie where regions in the European Union have taken on increased political and administrative responsibilities (Alexiadis, Laidas, & Hasanagas, 2013).

Economically, there has been an ongoing debate as to whether and how the CAP contributes to regional growth and cohesion. This debate has been mostly circumscribed to policy circles. It took off with the Sapir report on the contribution of EU policies to the Lisbon competitiveness strategy (Sapir et al., 2003). As Esposti (2011, p. 29) notes, the report concluded that the CAP was not particularly consistent with the Lisbon objectives, even though subsequent CAP reforms have repeatedly been justified on the basis of Lisbon’s competitiveness objectives. There is unfortunately little systematic research on this aspect of regionalization. Esposti argues that this lacuna reflects a combination of conceptual blindness (due to lingering effects of farm exceptionalism) and theoretical/methodological difficulties. The latter are worth quoting at length since they give a good indication of the type of research agenda that needs to develop:

Analysing the contribution of the CAP to growth and cohesion requires models with two basic characters. First, they should admit different possible uses of the same support: a direct decoupled payment can be used by a farmer either to sustain household consumption (or saving) or to fund investments in its own agricultural production. Secondly, as a consequence, models have to be multisectoral and multiregional (i.e., open) to admit cross-sector and cross-region transfers.

(Esposti, 2011, p. 32)

While this dilemma will be mainly for economists to address, political scientists have contributed sparse knowledge on the political dimension of the changing center-periphery relations and the way the CAP affects these. Single case studies have documented the variegated effects of the CAP on state–region relations. At one end of the spectrum, the Belgian case shows how European integration goes hand-in-hand with the growing empowerment of peripheries. This argument is couched in terms of “de-federalization,” where this term refers to the “gradual transfer of policy competences from a federal or central government to the federalized” (Beyers, Delreux, & Steensels, 2004, p. 129). This process is complex and multileveled. At the European level, it reflected a combination of sector-specific and macro-institutional innovations. At the level of the agricultural sector, the introduction of new CAP policy areas from the 1990s onward tended to enhance the role of the Belgian regions, which typically had jurisdiction over these areas. At the macro-institutional level, treaty innovations (notably article 146 TEU following the Maastricht Treaty) enabled Belgian subnational authorities to claim more power in the formulation of the CAP itself. These developments brought about the “almost complete de-federalization of [Belgium’s] agriculture policy” (Beyers et al., 2004, p. 129). The 2002 domestic reform sanctioned a new bargaining system in agriculture where Belgium’s policy toward the CAP is now really the result of the positions of the federated states (Flanders and Wallonia), aggregated in the new Coordination Office for Agriculture (Beyers et al., 2004, p. 126).

By contrast, Italy displays a less successful story of decentralization. Like in the Belgian case, the restructuring of center-periphery relations in the 1990s was “deeply affected by the development of the European integration and by the CAP” (Ieraci, 1998, p. 28). The CAP became a lever of political assertion for the Italian regions, which led, for example, “to the 1993 referendum and the temporary abolition of the Italian Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’ to take ‘into account the regions’ requests for more decentralization of the [National Agricultural Policy]” (Ieraci, 1998, p. 22). Unlike the Belgian case, however, the Italian regions lacked decisional power in the Council of Ministers, and they lacked financial autonomy—two conditions that seem to be critical for regions to be able to leverage CAP opportunities for change.

The contrast between Belgium’s “almost complete de-federalization of agriculture policy” (Beyers et al., 2004) and Italy’s problematic “quasi-federalism” (Ieraci, 1998, p. 24) thus creates an intriguing puzzle for research on the Europeanization of the CAP. This agenda must be systematically comparative and include the experience of the CEECs. What is certain, for the moment, is that the Europeanization of the CAP is profoundly shaped by the market intervention and direct payment pillar (pillar 1) of the CAP, rather than the rural development pillar; and furthermore, the pattern of impacts falls short of a “territorial homogenization of the European [agricultural] space” (Perraud, 1999, p. 8).


Looking outward, the CAP as a policy of embedded liberalism has always filtered the effects of globalization. This role has not disappeared even though it has taken on new forms. In the 1990s, CAP decision makers adapted their policy to the changing constraints of their global environment while preserving its core protective function. The recent Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations between the European Union and the United States could have compelled CAP makers to undertake further changes, potentially going beyond simple adjustments (Laursen & Roederer-Rynning, 2017). However, these negotiations are currently on standby. The parallel Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the European Union and Canada, which entered into force provisionally on September 21, 2017, rather represents a victory for CAP decision makers. They have enlarged market access for European producers of milk, wine, and spirits (Kerr & Hobbs, 2015) and expanded the number of agricultural Geographical Indications (GI) recognized by Canadian policymakers. Likewise, the EU trade agreement with Japan, just authorized at the time of writing (July 2018), is widely perceived to enlarge market access for European agriculture. Perhaps the ongoing negotiations with the countries of the Southern Common Market (Mercosur)—Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay—are the most perilous for European farm producers.

Looking inward, the European environment in which the CAP comes into being has become increasingly fluid and dynamic. At the EU level, a changing constitutional context means that the member states now share decisional power with the European Parliament in both lawmaking and budgeting. Furthermore, following Brexit, the European Union will be missing a traditionally liberal and pro-free-trade member state and a net contributor to the EU budget. While these trends tend to reinforce the status-quo member states, they also introduce the prospect of a considerable “revenue shortfall” for the European Union as a whole (Begg, 2018), bringing budgetary pressures back to the forefront of CAP policymaking and fueling redistributive conflicts among the EU member states. Finally, the serial enlargement of the European Union has had an impact on the design of the CAP, allowing it to evolve away from one-size-fits-all arrangements and toward more flexibility for the member states: “Even while it remains the sole instance of a regionally integrated agricultural policy, the CAP no longer embodies the same degree of cross-national harmonization of agricultural policy among EC/EU member states that it once did” (Skogstad & Verdun, 2009, p. 265). While this may be needed in view of the diversity of regional agricultural systems, it highlights the fact that Europeanization seldom leads to the convergence of national models.

This has not happened—and will likely not happen—in the CAP, one of the most integrated policies in the European Union. Diversity is not something to deplore—at least not if it takes place within a clear framework of common rules and enforced disciplines. However, there is the risk that the proliferation of flexible schemes of aid, the growing use of systems of “equivalence,” and weak EU-level policy methodologies weaken the integrity of the single market. In addition, we note that the move toward the re-nationalization of the CAP coincides, in some countries, with a certain degree of political radicalization of farming constituencies.

Looking ahead, this review of the literature suggests three fruitful venues for future research. First, we need to develop a more dynamic view of the CAP policymaking process. Currently, we have a rather compartmentalized knowledge, which produces insights into three types of decision taking place at different levels of analysis (on “decision types,” see Peterson, 2001): the history-making decisions, constitutive of the big CAP reforms or even larger decisions changing the macro-level institutional setup of the CAP; the policy-setting decisions, making up the ordinary CAP legislation between two CAP reforms; (and now adopted through bicameral lawmaking); and finally, what Peterson calls the policy-shaping decisions (i.e., typically the comitology decisions setting the agenda for new rules and implementing CAP legislation). It would be helpful to integrate scholarly insights from across these three levels of analysis to understand the scope and breadth of change. How are history-making decisions (e.g., CAP reforms, empowerment of the EP in CAP) reflected in ordinary legislation and comitology decisions? Is there a logical link between the three, or is each type of decision a prisoner of its local political and institutional setting? It is difficult to trace the effect of “big decisions” unless we re-integrate insights from across the CAP policymaking process.

Second, we need more systematic research on the domestic impact of the CAP. This type of research is scattered and uneasily accessible in a comparative format. The CAP has been rather ignored from scholars of Europeanization because it is one of the most integrated policies of the European Union. To the extent that scholars have researched the domestic effects of the CAP, they have tended to focus on the second pillar of the CAP—rural development—owing to its more decentralized constitution. Brexit reminds us, for example, of the distinctive ways in which the United Kingdom has institutionalized the CAP at home (Ward & Lowe, 2004; Greer, 2005). However, as the first pillar of the CAP—devoted to farm payments and market intervention—incorporates greater flexibility, investigating the domestic impact of these measures becomes more important and relevant. Moving the research frontier requires the development of comparative research programs that are capable of capturing the effects of European arrangements in the different national settings, ranging from policy outcomes to political institutions and power structures, through center-periphery relations.

Finally, we know that the CEECs joined the CAP on differentiated terms compared with incumbent member states; at the same time, as a policy with an increasingly explicit redistributive dimension, the CAP has tended to benefit the CEECs. What is the impact of the CAP in the CEECs? How, in turn, do the CEECs shape the CAP? From a Europeanization perspective, the ability of member states to shape EU policies actively depends on their institutions and historical legacies. Wallace hypothesized long ago that the CEECs would have a more difficult time to shape Europeanization. This is because unlike Western countries, “in central and eastern Europe the disruptions to connections across borders have produced a contrasting long history, in which options for managing transnational relation- ships have been more constrained. Thus Europeanisation is not an even process across the continent” (Wallace, 2000, p. 370). Future research must explore more systematically how the CEECs navigate the troubled waters of the CAP.


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(1.) “Mad cow” disease is also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), its scientific name. The first outbreaks of the disease were reported in the United Kingdom in February 1985. The disease reached a high point there in 1992 with 37,280 cases. By 2001, it had spread to many third countries, including countries in Latin American and Asia.

(2.) This section draws partly on Roederer-Rynning (2007a).

(3.) In order to circumvent the commission, member states must harness a qualified majority against the commission proposals, followed within a month by a qualified majority for a new proposal.

(4.) National envelopes go back to the Fischler Reform but were systematically expanded in the last CAP reform.