In 2007 the farm subsidies of the European Union's Common
Agricultural Policy took over 40 percent of the entire EU budget.
How did a sector of diminishing social and economic importance
manage to maintain such political prominence? The conventional
answer focuses on the negotiations among the member states of the
European Community from 1958 onwards. That story holds that the
political priority, given to the CAP, as well as its long-term
stability, resides in a basic devil's bargain between French
agriculture and German industry.
In Farmers on Welfare, a landmark new account of the
making of the single largest European policy ever, Ann-Christina L.
Knudsen suggests that this accepted narrative is rather too neat.
In particular, she argues, it neglects how a broad agreement was
made in the 1960s that related to national welfare state policies
aiming to improve incomes for farmers. Drawing on extensive
archival research from a variety of political actors across the
Community, she illustrates how and why this supranational farm
regime was created in the 1960s, and also provides us with a
detailed narrative history of how national and European
administrations gradually learned about this kind of
By tracing how the farm welfare objective was gradually
implemented in other common policies, Knudsen offers an alternative
account of European integration history.
Subjects: Political Science
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