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Change within the architecture of the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy - a case study on multilevel dynamics

European Union
Governance
Policy Analysis
Public Policy
Policy Change
Policy Implementation
Policy-Making
Jana Demoustier
Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Transition Economies (IAMO)
Jana Demoustier
Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Transition Economies (IAMO)

Abstract

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is one of the oldest, and most centralized policies of the European Union (EU). Over the last 30 years, it has experienced a series of reforms, which have transformed its objectives and instruments as well as its multilevel architecture. From the first reform in 1992 to the last reform in 2020, reforms have gradually increased the leeway granted to member states in CAP instrumentation, targeting, and financing (Terluin e al. 2017; De Castro et al. 2020). With the adoption of the so-called “New Delivery Model (NDM)” in 2020, “flexibility” and “performance-orientation” have become official principles of CAP design, ex-ante and ex-post reporting key instruments of policy coordination. Within this study, I examine the interrelationship between change in CAP contents and change within the CAP’s multilevel structure based on an analytical framework, which - inspired by Benz (2009) – combines ideas from economic theories of federalism and rational choice institutionalism, and pays particular attention to processes of layering and feed-back. I distinguish between four contentual dimensions of reform – reduction and decoupling of agricultural transfers, redistribution of transfers, retargeting of transfers towards public good provision - and traces change on these dimensions across four reform periods. From economic theories of federalism and rational choice institutionalism we can derive different expectations on the extent to which these changes have been accompanied through an increase in the leeway granted to member states in implementation. Based on economic theories of functional federalism, Grochowska and Kosior (2008) previously suggested that flexibilization is a rational response to the decoupling and retargeting of transfers. The findings of my research indicate that increases in flexibility have served as bargaining-chips within reform negotiations. As such they have facilitated reform progress. Their accumulation over time and recent trends of divergence in reform outcomes have induced the Commission to initiate a more comprehensive restructuring of CAP governance. Literature: Benz, Arthur (2009): Politik in Mehrebenensystemen. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. De Castro, Paolo, Pier Paolo Miglietta, and Yari Vecchio (2020): The Common Agricultural Policy 2021–2027: A New History for European Agriculture, in: Italian Review of Agricultural Economics 75 (3): 5–12. Grochowska, Renata, and Katarzyna Kosior (2008): The Future of the CAP – a Declining Policy in the European Union?, Paper presented at the 109th EAAE Seminar "The CAP After the Fischler Reform: National Implementations, Impact Assessment and the Agenda for Future Reforms", Viterbo, Nov 2008. Terluin, Ida, Tuomas Kuhmonen, and Petra Berkhout (2017): Research for AGRI Committee – CAP Implementation: Flexibility Given to Member States - State of Play and Perspectives. Brussels: European Parliament, Policy Department for Structural and Cohesion Policy.