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European Agricultural Policy Analysis


The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) plays a major role in defining the activities of the food and farming sector in Europe and how it is financed. Providing billions in subsidies for food production and standards, the CAP is a pivotal policy that the farming industry revolves around.

The EU’s agricultural trade policy with other trading blocs opens up major markets for agricultural food products and represents expansion opportunities for food-based businesses as well as challenges in the form of tariffs and non-tariff barriers to trade.

Environmental and animal welfare policies in the European agricultural arena are growing in number and require careful coherence to avoid non-compliance action, as well as a method to promote forward-thinking farming processes.

Key facts about European agricultural policy
  • The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) needs to be agreed on by the end of 2020.
  • The UK is set to phase-out CAP-style direct subsidies from 2021 and replace with Environmental Land Management Schemes, as part of its withdrawal from the EU.
  • Glyphosate, the world’s most widely used herbicide, is set for regulatory renewal in 2022 with some EU states planning a ban on the substance prior to this date.
  • An ongoing tariff dispute between the EU and the US is expected to worsen in 2020 when the EU gets WTO approval to apply its own retaliatory duties.
  • The EU Green Deal is being crafted this year to make the EU bloc climate neutral by 2050.

Key themes affecting European agricultural policy

Negotiations on the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) continue this year as lawmakers struggle to agree on how to finance the farming industry for the coming years.

Ambitions to cut emissions and make Europe climate neutral from 2050 will put pressure on the agricultural industry throughout 2020 to adapt processes and products to support environmental recovery.

Punitive US tariffs on EU agricultural food products will continue to have a negative effect on the sector and the effects can be expected to be exacerbated by expected retaliatory tariffs by the EU on US goods in 2020.

A status quo arrangement with the UK will continue until December 2020 when a new trade deal is expected to be forged, changing the dynamics of trade between the two blocs. The UK is also expected to sign off an Agriculture Bill that will phase-out direct subsidies for farmers over seven years from 2021 and direct finance to production efforts and environmental management schemes.

European Agricultural Regulatory Policies currently under debate
Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) transition packageApproval needed by year end
Farm-to-Fork strategyDebate throughout 2020
EU Green Deal for climate neutrality by 2050Debate throughout 2020
Biodiversity Strategy for 2035Debate throughout 2020
UK-EU trade agreementPlanned agreement by December 2020

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