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The Mansholt Plan Forty Years On


  • David R. Stead


summary Forty years ago, Europe's Agricultural Commissioner Sicco Mansholt headed a unique attempt to transform the rural economy of the then six-member European Economic Community The Commission published a provocative memorandum proposing broad policies to accelerate structural change in agriculture, including providing financial incentives to encourage about half of the farming population to leave the sector, with five million hectares of land targeted to be removed from production. Unsurprisingly, the'Mansholt Plan'produced passionate protests, and the three Directives eventually adopted were far less ambitious in scope and financial commitment than the original proposals. The fate of the Mansholt Plan is a classic example of the difficulties faced in overcoming the status quo bias of agricultural policy even with the shock tactics then employed by the Commission. Juxtaposing the plan with today's policy environment highlights the dramatic changes that have occurred in the agricultural sector, and the re-orientation of the CAP The counterfactual scenario of wholesale implementation of the 1968 memorandum programme would, in hindsight, have almost certainly featured repercussions and recriminations exacerbating the problems of European integration. Hence the case study of the Mansholt Plan also looks like a cautionary tale against introducing'big bang'policy reform in the future. Copyright The Agricultural Ecomomics Society and the European Association of Agricultural Economists 2007.

Suggested Citation

  • David R. Stead, 2007. "The Mansholt Plan Forty Years On," EuroChoices, The Agricultural Economics Society, vol. 6(3), pages 40-45, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:eurcho:v:6:y:2007:i:3:p:40-45

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