A more flexible and sustainable Common Agricultural Policy

Mon 04/12/2017 by Richard Wilkinson
food and farming future

Simpler rules and a more flexible approach are the proposals of the European Commission on “The Future of Food and Farming”, which aims to draw up a road map for the future of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy. Member States will be given greater freedom to choose how and where to invest their CAP funding to achieve common goals on environment, climate change and sustainability. Each EU country will develop its own strategic plan – approved by the Commission – setting out how it intends to meet the objectives. Focus will be more on monitoring progress and ensure funding is obtaining concrete results. This approach is hoped to make the policy fit better with those who implement it on the ground.

Other proposals include:

  • Encouraging the use of modern technologies to support farmers on the ground and provide greater market transparency and certainty
  • Greater attention to encourage young people to take up farming, to be coordinated with Member States’ own powers in such areas as land taxation, planning and skills development
  • Address citizens’ concerns regarding sustainable agricultural production, including health, nutrition, food waste and animal welfare
  • Seek coherent action among its policies in line with its global dimension, notably on trade, migration and sustainable development
  • Creating an EU-level platform on risk management on how best to help farmers cope with the uncertainty of climate, market volatility and other risks

The relevant legislative proposals giving effect to the goals outlined in the Communication will be tabled by the Commission before the summer 2018, following the MFF proposal.


On 2nd February 2017, the European Commission launched a consultation on the future of the common agricultural policy (CAP) in order to better understand where the current policy could be simplified and modernised. During the three-month consultation period, the European Commission received more than 320,000 replies, mostly from individuals. The consultation found that most respondents wanted to keep a strong common agricultural policy at European Union level but that it needed to be simpler and more flexible, and more focused on meeting the key challenges of ensuring a fair standard of living for farmers, preserving the environment and tackling climate change.

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