Contemporary European History

The Making of the CAP: Towards a Historical Analysis of the EU’s First Major Policy

a1 Department of International History, London School of Economics, Houghton Street, Aldwych, London, WC2A 2AE, UK.

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This article seeks to explain the emergence of the CAP between 1958 and 1968. It draws attention to four particular political factors that made the policy’s birth possible, despite the vagueness of the Treaty of Rome commitment to an agricultural policy and the unpromising precedents of earlier attempts to integrate Europe’s agriculture. These were the strength of the coalition pushing for the CAP’s emergence (primarily composed of France, the Netherlands and the European Commission), the weakness and inconsistencies of their opponents (Germany and Italy), the favourable international context, and the incremental nature of the policy’s development. The article further argues that the complexity of the bargaining over the farm support policy, and the manner in which CAP discussions often became entwined with other seemingly unrelated aspects of EEC decision-making, illustrate how even the early Community of the 1960s was sufficiently complex to require a radical change of approach from those who wish to study its historical development.

(Published Online September 6 2005)


1 Piers Ludlow is Senior Lecturer in the Department of International History at the LSE. His research focuses primarily on postwar western Europe and especially on the European integration process during the 1950s and 1960s. His publications on this subject include Dealing With Britain: the Six and the First UK Application to the EEC (Cambridge University Press, 1997) and The European Community and the Crises of the 1960s: Negotiating the Gaullist Challenge (Routledge, 2005).