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The EU Agricultural Policy and Developing Countries: Lessons from the Past and Future Directions

Vanessa Constant Laforce

There are inherent tensions and contradictions between the highly protectionist approach of the EU's CommonAgricultural Policy (CAP) and the EU's stated intention behind its relationship with developing countries (DCs).This has been exacerbated by the EU's accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 1994. This conflicthas been to the fore since the establishment of the CAP in the 1960s focusing on increasing domestic agriculturalproduction, through direct support to farmers, and through intervention. Since 1994, the EU's CAP has had to berestructured to meet WTO legal requirements on domestic support measures. Domestic subsidies still form alarge part of the post 2003 mid-term review approach to agriculture that is still adding distortions into world tradeagricultural commodity markets. This affects in particular DCs' market access to the EU for agricultural foodproducts. The CAP 'Health Check' agreed in 2008, aimed at simplifying and modernising the CAP, provides forfurther market orientation improvements. This paper analyses from a legal perspective, the extent to which thecurrent market support instruments and direct aid system under the CAP's both pillars alter trade distortions inagricultural commodities. The analysis will highlight the consequences for DCs' access to the EU market.

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