Thursday

16th Sep 2021

Public support for EU farm subsidies high but falling

  • The share of citizens that thinks CAP subsidies benefit all citizens, not just farmers, has dropped (Photo: marcovdz)

A majority of respondents in an EU-commissioned poll said they thought the EU's agricultural policy benefits all citizens, but support was lower than two years ago. An increasing number of EU citizens believed the subsidies benefited only farmers.

More than 27,000 EU citizens were asked in October 2015 whether they agreed with the statement "the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) benefits all European citizens and not only farmers". The poll was published by Eurobarometer on Wednesday (6 January).

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While 62 percent said they agreed, this figure represents a sizeable drop compared to the 77 percent who supported the statement in November 2013.

Among EU citizens, 22 percent percent disagreed, while 16 percent said they did not know.

France, which is one of the largest recipients of agricultural subsidies, is also the country where the division is largest. Of the French respondents to the poll, 36 percent said the CAP only benefits farmers.

Around 39 percent of the EU budget is spent on agriculture, with about 30 percent going directly to farmers and the agricultural market, and 9 percent to rural development projects.

But many of the details of the CAP escape the average European: a majority said they had heard of the CAP, but did not know any details. 30 percent had never heard of it. Only 10 percent knew the details of the support EU gives farmers through the policy.

At the same time, the majority of citizens are not interested in knowing more about the policy: 65 percent said No, when asked if they wanted more information.

The number of people who said the EU subsidies for farmers were too high remained stable at 13 percent, while the share of those who thought the subsidies were too low, increased slightly from 26 to 29 percent.

Latvians (66 percent) and Romanians (57 percent) were the most in favour of higher subsidies, while in Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands 31 percent said they were too high.

Across the EU, 41 percent said the level of farm subsidies was “about right”.

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Counter to popular beliefs among policymakers, the positive effects of support schemes are found to be very limited. In order to revitalise Europe, the newly appointed EU Commission needs to reconsider government's role in innovation and entrepreneurship.

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