Agriculture and Fisheries

Consumer requirements are constantly evolving and changing. As a result, agriculture today is not just a means of producing food; it also assumes important social and environmental functions. European agriculture has thus witnessed numerous fundamental changes since the foundation of the European Communities.

The European public is paying increasing attention to environmental protection and food safety. Agriculture must also face new challenges, in particular as a result of the globalisation of agricultural markets and demographic changes in many rural regions. At the same time, however, it is adapting to new opportunities such as the issue of renewable energy sources. Against this background, the European Union has carried out a number of reforms of the common agricultural policy (CAP) since the early 1990s.

Access to quality foodstuffs

A priority of the reformed CAP is to give consumers access to quality food for reasonable prices and to guarantee farmers decent living standards. However, the granting of farming subsidies is contingent on the fulfilment of broader objectives, such as the observance of hygiene standards and standards relating to food safety, animal and plant health and the protection of the traditional rural landscape.

One of the key components of the reformed CAP is the need to safeguard the long-term viability of rural areas. As agriculture has become modernized and the European economy has turned its attention more to the service sector, the significance of farming for employment has fallen sharply. With this in mind, the survival of the rural economy cannot be taken for granted.

Finally, the concept of sustainable development has been reflected in the current CAP, mainly in relation to the common fisheries policy and efforts at the sustainable use of natural resources in seas, rivers and lakes.

Last update: 16.8.2011 16:01

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