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Modelling the Effects of the EU Common Agricultural Policy


  • Catherine Costa
  • Michelle Osborne
  • Xiao-guang Zhang
  • Pierre Boulanger
  • Patrick Jomini

    (Productivity Commission)


The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the European Union has undergone significant reform since the early 1990s, with the aim of improving its market orientation. There is an increasing focus on breaking the link between direct income payments and production decisions — so called 'decoupling'. Expenditure on the CAP accounts for about 46 per cent of total EU budgetary expenditure, or over 50 billion Euros. The majority of expenditure is in the form of direct income payments to farmers. Expenditure also includes market price support and rural development programs. The European Union also assists its agricultural sector with various border protection measures including import duties and other non-tariff barriers. In this study, economic impacts of the CAP are evaluated using the GTAP model. According to the modelling results, the effects of the CAP include - higher output of the farm and food processing sectors in the European Union, of about 8 and 6 per cent respectively; lower output of the EU manufacturing and services sectors; lower GDP in the European Union of about 0.3 per cent, or $US 52 billion. The additional farm and food output in the European Union is estimated to depress world prices for these goods by between 1 and 4 per cent. World prices for manufactured goods and services increase. These price movements induce a contraction in agriculture and food processing in non-EU regions, and an expansion in the manufacturing and services sectors. The estimated net effect of the CAP is to reduce global welfare by about $US 45 billion, with a cost to the European Union of $US 30 billion. The largest contributor to this welfare loss is the border protection component of the CAP. Important caveats to these modelling results apply. The estimates are sensitive to parameter choices, specific model features, and the structure of the database. In addition, the modelling does not capture some aspects of the CAP including the effects of cross-compliance measures, any impacts on productivity in the agricultural sector, and positive and negative externalities associated with the policy. Therefore, these results should be interpreted as only indicative of the magnitude of the economic impacts of the CAP. The views expressed in this paper are those of the staff involved and do not necessarily reflect those of the Productivity Commission.

Suggested Citation

  • Catherine Costa & Michelle Osborne & Xiao-guang Zhang & Pierre Boulanger & Patrick Jomini, 2009. "Modelling the Effects of the EU Common Agricultural Policy," Staff Working Papers 0903, Productivity Commission, Government of Australia.
  • Handle: RePEc:ris:prodsw:0903

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Antoine Bouët & Yvan Decreux & Lionel Fontagné & Sébastien Jean & David Laborde, 2008. "Assessing Applied Protection across the World," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(5), pages 850-863, November.
    2. Oliver Balkhausen & Martin Banse & Harald Grethe, 2008. "Modelling CAP Decoupling in the EU: A Comparison of Selected Simulation Models and Results," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(1), pages 57-71, February.
    3. C. F. Bach & S. E. Frandsen & H. G. Jensen, 2000. "Agricultural and Economy‐Wide Effects of European Enlargement: Modelling the Common Agricultural Policy," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(2), pages 162-180, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Matthews, Alan & Salvatici, Luca & Scoppola, Margherita, 2017. "Trade Impacts of Agricultural Support in the EU," Commissioned Papers 252767, International Agricultural Trade Research Consortium.
    2. Alan Matthews, 2014. "An updated look at the impact of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy on developing countries," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp454, IIIS.
    3. Ole Boysen & Hans Grinsted Jensen & Alan Matthews, 2016. "Impact of EU agricultural policy on developing countries: A Uganda case study," The Journal of International Trade & Economic Development, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 25(3), pages 377-402, June.
    4. Markus F. Hofreither, 2010. "Gemeinsame Agrarpolitik 2014 – Positionen und Konsequenzen," WIFO Monatsberichte (monthly reports), WIFO, vol. 83(6), pages 517-528, June.
    5. James Giesecke & Mark Horridge & Katarzyna Zawalinska, 2010. "The regional economic consequences of Less Favoured Area support: a spatial general equilibrium analysis of the Polish LFA program," Centre of Policy Studies/IMPACT Centre Working Papers g-211, Victoria University, Centre of Policy Studies/IMPACT Centre.

    More about this item


    Common Agricultural Policy (CAP); food security; rural development; Global Trade Analysis Project; direct income payments; export subsidies; border protection; general equilibrium;

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