This chapter examines what is perhaps the most notorious of the EU’s policies: the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). It does so by considering the nature of its controversiality, why agriculture has been singled out for ‘special treatment’, the current operation of the CAP, the impact of the CAP on both agriculture and other EU policies, and the CAP’s policy processes. Despite the fact that it accounts for only just over 1 per cent of EU GDP and 5 per cent of EU employment, agriculture looms large in the life of the EU. It does so for five main reasons. First, the economic impact of agriculture is greater than indicated by the figures just given, for in addition to farming itself there are many industries that are closely linked to agriculture and are dependent on its success. These industries include agro-chemicals and fertilisers, agricultural equipment, food processing, veterinary medicines, and financial services. Second, the EU has, via the CAP, major policy-making and decision-making responsibilities for agriculture.
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