The new Common Agricultural Policy: How do Member States respond to flexibility?

Roberto Henke*, Theo Benos, Fabrizio De Filippis, Mara Giua, Fabio Pierangeli, Maria Rosaria Pupo D'Andrea

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is a core policy of the European Union (EU), representing 40 per cent of the EU budget and a cornerstone of the integration process. Due to the path dependency that defined its evolution, it had always been a rather homogeneous and centralized policy. For the first time, the 2014–20 reform endowed Member States with the possibility to tailor the direct payments of the CAP along different fields of flexibility and thereby better address their national needs. This article examines these national choices in terms of the discontinuity they impose on the centralized policy model, showing that they reduced the policy inertia associated to the historical processes in place at the EU level, along a new national path dependency re-shaping the CAP implementation. The flexibility introduced by the 2014–20 reform was particularly embraced by Member States that had been penalized by the ‘one-size-fits-all’ historical archetype.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-419
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Common Market Studies
Issue number2
Early online date2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018

JEL classifications

  • q18 - "Agricultural Policy; Food Policy"


  • CAP reform
  • Direct payments
  • EU agricultural budget
  • CAP national choices
  • EU flexibility
  • direct payments

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