Agriculture was long a headline issue in EU politics. It was one of the few policies listed in the Treaty of Rome, and for decades the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) topped the EC/EU budget. But while spending on agriculture helped encourage greater production, contributing to the end of food shortages and providing essential investments in western Europe’s rural communities, it also created several problems: it distorted markets, diverted resources away from other priorities, and created tensions with the EU’s trading partners. Attempts to reform agricultural policies were long resisted by western European farmers, but enlargement combined with the pressures of international trade regimes to force changes to agricultural policy, which has since moved down the EU agenda.
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