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Brussels, 29 March 2007

EU public strongly endorses recent changes in European agricultural policy

One of the main findings of a new poll examining the attitudes of citizens to Agriculture and the Common Agricultural Policy, published today, is that the EU public strongly supports recent reforms to EU farm policy. In what has been a policy area that often divides opinion, the results show a predominantly favourable reaction to two of the key elements of the 2003 agreement on CAP reform. The survey, conducted by TNS Opinion on behalf of the European Commission Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Development, was carried out between the 17th of November and the 19th of December 2006. Using the methodology of the standard Eurobarometer survey, around 1000 face-to-face interviews were conducted in each of the (at that time) 25 EU Member States.

Most clearly, an overwhelming majority of European citizens support the ‘cross-compliance’ principle, whereby farmers face a reduction in payments if they fail to meet environmental, animal welfare or food safety standards. Over 8 out of 10 people support such measures, with the proportion saying these are justified between 83% and 86% depending on the specific standards in question.

Linked to this, the public has reacted favourably towards changes in the way in which farmers receive support. Almost 5 times as many think that giving more funding to rural development, as well paying farmers directly instead of subsidising their products are positive developments (49%) compared to those who think they are negative (11%). The remainder of the poll offered a neutral opinion or no answer.

There is also distinct evidence of views on the future direction of agricultural policy, with the public envisioning agriculture and the rural areas continuing to play a central role in the EU: Almost 9 in every 10 (88%) say that these are key issues for the future of Europe.

This is reflected in opinions on the proportion of the EU budget devoted to the CAP, which is currently around 40%. Almost 6 in 10 (58%) believe that this should either stay the same or increase in years to come, compared to a figure of just 17% who think this should decrease.

More specifically, the factors people believe the EU should prioritise within agricultural policy are:

  • Ensuring farmers supply them with healthy and safe food (mentioned by 41%)
  • Ensuring both farmers (37%) and consumers (35%) get a fair deal in the market
  • Respect for the environment (33%) and the welfare of farm animals (27%)

The CAP is currently perceived as fulfilling its role well, with a good share of favourable ratings on the supply of healthy/safe food environmental respect and animal welfare.

The poll was also conducted in Romania and Bulgaria, with these results not included in the calculation of EU averages due to the two countries’ status during the poll as Acceding countries.

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