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Brussels, 23 January 2012

50 Years of the CAP - A partnership between Europe and Farmers

2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the implementation of the EU's Common Agricultuure Policy (CAP), a cornerstone of European integration, that has provided European citizens with 50 years of food security and a living countryside. The CAP remains the only EU policy where there is a common EU framework and the majority of public spending in all Member States comes from the EU budget, rather than from national or regional budgets. Figures show that the CAP has helped see a steady increase in economic value, in productivity, and in trade, while also allowing the share of household spending on food to be halved.

The CAP is a policy that has always evolved to address necessary challenges. For example, the reform process since 1992 has seen a move towards much greater market orientation and away from trade-distorting support, while also taking into account consumer concerns about issues such as animal welfare, and the doubling of the number of farmers within the EU (following enlargement from 15 to 27 Member States).

In October 2011, the Commission presented its latest proposals for further reforms to the CAP aimed at addressing the challenges of today and tomorrow: food security; climate change; the sustainable use of natural resources; balanced regional development; helping the farming sector cope with the effects of the economic crisis and with the increased volatility of agricultural prices; and contributing to smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in line with the Europe 2020 strategy.

Milestones of History of CAP

Back in 1962, several key dates marked the beginning of the CAP:

  • On 14 January 1962, after 140 hours of negotiations (the first European agricultural marathon), the Council of Ministers of the Six took the decision to proceed to the second stage of the transition period, to establish common agricultural market organisations for each product, to apply specific competition rules and to create a European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF).

  • 4 April 1962: Following a second agricultural marathon, the texts of the regulations were adopted by the Council.

  • 20 April 1962: The texts were published. The date that they came into effect depended on the start of the market season: for instance, for the common market organisation for cereals, eggs, poultry, meat and pork the date of entry into effect was 1 July 1962.

  • Among the key dates since then:

  • 1962: The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is born! The essence of the policy is to provide affordable food for EU citizens and a fair standard of living for farmers.

  • 1984: Milk quotas - Specific measures are put in place to align milk production with market needs.

  • 1992: "Mac Sharry" reform - The CAP shifts from market support to producer support. Price support is replaced with direct aid payments. There is increased emphasis on food quality, protecting traditional and regional foods and caring for the environment.

  • 2000: The scope of the CAP is widened to include rural development. The CAP focuses on the economic, social and cultural development of Europe with targeted multi-annual programmes, designed at national, regional or local level.

  • 2003: "Fischler/Mid-term Review" reform - CAP reform cuts the link between subsidies and production. Farmers are more market oriented and, in view of the specific constraints on European agriculture, they receive an income aid. They have to respect specific environmental, animal welfare and food safety standards.

  • 2004 & 2007: EU farming population doubles, following recent enlargements with 12 New Member States. EU's agricultural and rural landscape changes as well.

  • 2012: New CAP reform negotiations to strengthen the economic and ecological competitiveness of the agricultural sector, to promote innovation, to combat climate change and to support employment and growth in rural area.

Statistics to show the evolution of basic agricultural data





Number of Member States





Number of farmers (million)





Agricultural area (million hectares)







Value of Agriculture production (real prices, billion EUR / ECU)



Average milk yield (kg per cow per year)



Average wheat yield (in tonne per ha)



Value of agricultural exports (in real terms, billion EUR / ECU)



Value of agricultural imports (in real terms, billion EUR / ECU)



Value of agricultural trade (in real terms, billion EUR / ECU)



% of Household spending on food (EU-wide average)



Source: DG AGRI; Note: * provisional Jan-Nov 2011 figures;

For more details, including information about “CAP@50” events in different Member States to mark the 50th Anniversary, go to website

As well as an interinstitutional event in Brussels on 23 January, launching events have been confirmed in the six founding members of the EU, as follows:

- Germany (Berlin, Gruene Woche) - 20 January 2012

- Italy (Verona) - 2 February 2012

- France (Paris) - 27 February 2012

- BeNeLux (tbc) - 4 April 2012

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