CAPped- (19.07.03)

The safest bet in economics is probably that the Common Agricultural Policy never gets reformed. For most countries in Europe, tied to a vision of idyllic rural life, agriculture remains the last industrial sacred cow in a globalised market. Even when European enlargement makes the case for reforming CAP a priority, it still seems as politically as far away as ever.

Unfortunately, most of the global poverty and environmental issues are intrinsically linked to reforming (or even abolishing CAP). Diffuse pollution from agricultural run off is one of the major environmental issues in Europe, particularly if climate change increases the scarcity value of water and increases the demand from excessive agricultural production. Surely the only real solution to global poverty is equally to have a fair market price for agricultural production in the less developed countries.

However, it is difficult to imagine rural Europe, in particular France, seeing the benefits of change. The alternative to reform may become increased protectionism, in which case the global economy may be the loser.