When the European Union was formed, all the countries that joined it collaborated on an extensive, detailed farm policy. The countries enacted this policy, known as the Common Agricultural Policy, in 1962. The policy aimed to create a cohesive market within the EU, where agricultural goods would move freely, and all members would have standardized prices. It also aimed to prioritize products from within the internal market over foreign imports by implementing shared customs tariffs and fostering financial cooperation through joint funding for agricultural initiatives. The European Union has found great success with this policy, especially in its recent efforts to support small rural farmers and implement initiatives that promote sustainable farming practices and resource management.
The implementation of this policy in the European Union has had an exponentially positive impact. However, past versions of the Common Agricultural Policy, which focused solely on domestic initiatives, did not provide assistance to developing nations. Recently, the Common Agricultural Policy has started to yield beneficial effects on developing nations, along with recommendations for modifying this policy to offer even greater assistance to these countries.
Within the framework of the Common Agricultural Policy, the European Union has taken a concrete step to generate positive impacts for developing nations. The step involves the gradual reduction of import barriers to access EU markets. Prior to 2017, the European Union maintained skewed trade policies that exclusively favored its own interests. Subsequently, these subsidies were eliminated to facilitate affordable access to the European Market for developing countries, including those in Africa. This shift is of particular significance as Europe serves as the primary market for numerous crops originating from Africa, such as coffee or peanuts.
A year after removing these subsidies, the European Union conducted a study on the global impact of the Common Agricultural Policy, which led to the conclusion that “In recent years, progress has been observed in better aligning agriculture with international development goals.” It becomes clear that the reduction of barriers for developing countries to enter the European agricultural market benefits both these nations and the global economy. This instance represents merely one example of the barriers the European Union has eliminated. Many more barriers remain in place to ensure the policy’s benefits for European farmers, while also safeguarding developing countries and their populations from exploitation. With achievements like this, further progress can be achieved in enhancing the inclusivity of this policy, promoting international development and simultaneously maintaining a thriving European Union.
While more indirect, the Common Agricultural Policy is benefiting developing nations through innovations and the adoption of green practices. European farmers receive numerous supports under the policy, but these often come with requirements for implementing green practices. This alignment ensures that initiatives within the Common Agricultural Policy adhere to environmental and climate regulations. Consequently, this arrangement proves advantageous for developing nations. Green farming practices, including those addressing environmental degradation, can be trialed within a supportive platform. Once their efficacy is established, these practices can be replicated in these nations, facilitating sustainable agricultural development.
Lastly, the Common Agricultural Policy has expanded its assistance to developing nations by offering pre-accession support in the agricultural sector. Strengthening their competitiveness, promoting sustainable practices and enhancing resilience against climate challenges constitute the core objectives of these forms of aid. These measures not only facilitate their prospective membership in the European Union but also enhance their stability and economies. Pre-accession assistance embodies practical international development.
Although these elements may appear modest within the context of the Common Agricultural Policy, the policy itself has progressed significantly from its earlier focus on international development. Nonetheless, substantial room for improvement remains to better serve developing nations, particularly within the agricultural sector. The 2018 study assessing the impact of the Common Agricultural Policy on developing nations underscores this point, pinpointing areas ripe for enhancement. Expanding this policy poses various challenges, yet the initial stride taken by the European Union in acknowledging its responsibility and influence is evident. The Union’s consideration of the study’s recommendations and its deliberation on the optimal approach to their implementation stand as indicative of this recognition.
– Ada Rose Wagar