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Brussels, 13 March 2008

EU public continues to be highly favourable towards recent agricultural policy reforms

For the second year running, EU citizens have given a strong endorsement to recent changes to EU farm policy. This is one of the main findings of a poll examining the attitudes of citizens to agriculture and the Common Agricultural Policy. This survey, following on from a similar one conducted in 2006, confirms a predominantly favourable reaction to 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 19th of November and the 14th of December 2007[1]. Using the methodology of the standard Eurobarometer, around 1000 face-to-face interviews were conducted in each of the 27 EU Member States.

The EU public is largely favourable towards a key element of the reformed CAP, involving the way in which farmers receive support. A clear majority think that giving more funding to rural development, as well as paying farmers directly instead of subsidising their products are positive developments (52%). Moreover, this viewpoint is more prevalent than it was in the previous year (by +3 points) and considerably outweighs the opinion that this change is a bad development (12%).

Furthermore, 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. Between 85% and 88% support these measures, depending on the specific standards in question.

The survey also shows that food prices have become a key issue over the last year, with 43% mentioning ensuring reasonable food prices as a policy priority. This represents an increase of +8 percentage points from the previous survey and reflects the reality of rising global prices during the intervening period.

In the public mind, agriculture and the rural areas continue to be seen as playing a vital role within the EU. Almost 9 in every 10 (89%) citizens say that these are key issues for the future of Europe.

This view finds further expression in opinions on the EU agricultural budget. Around 6 in 10 (58%) feel that this budget should either stay the same or increase over the coming years, compared to just 18% who think it should decrease. Furthermore, the share of respondents thinking the budget should increase has risen (by +3 points).

This year’s survey also asked a new series of questions about trade in agricultural products. Here, 50% agree that agricultural tariffs and quotas should be maintained, with exception made for imports from developing countries; 37% disagree with this idea. However, this comes with the caveat that all imports should comply with health and quality standards (86% agree vs. 5% disagree).

[1] In Denmark between 25/11/07 and 16/01/08

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