Launched in 1962, the EU’s common agricultural policy (CAP) is a partnership between agriculture and society and between Europe and its farmers. Its main aims are to improve agricultural productivity, so that consumers have a stable supply of affordable food and to ensure that EU farmers can make a reasonable living.
The CAP is a common policy for all the Member States of the European Union. It is managed and funded at the European level from the resources of the EU annual budget. Now, 50 years later, the EU has to address more challenges. Firstly, food security: at the global level, food production will have to double in order to feed an estimated world population of 9 billion people in 2050. Other challenges are climate change and the sustainable management of natural resources, looking after the countryside across the EU, and keeping the rural economy alive.
The most recent reforms, in 2013, shifted the focus towards greener farming practices, research, and the spread of knowledge, a fairer support system for farmers. and a stronger position for farmers in the food chain.
Known as the “second pillar” of the Common Agricultural Policy, the EU's Rural Development Policy has changed over time in order to adjust to the evolving key EU priorities, and for the period 2014-2020 has been revised in line with the wider CAP reform. Its emphasis on investing for success has enabled many farmers to learn new techniques, upgrade facilities, and carry out essential restructuring, thus sharpening their competitive edge.
Today, the rural economy faces significant challenges relating to food safety, climate change, growth. and jobs in rural areas. Within the EU, rural development plays a key part in achieving the overall objective of promoting smart, sustainable. and inclusive growth in rural communities.
The share of agriculture in Turkey's gross domestic product (GDP) as of 2013 was 8.9% (2013), representing 23.6% (2013) of the labour force. Agricultural lands (excluding meadows and pastures) comprise approximately 23.8 million ha of the overall 78 million ha total area. The average size of agricultural holdings in Turkey is smaller than those in the EU.
Subsistence and semi-subsistence farming is an important characteristic of Turkish agriculture. These farms are typically characterised by low productivity of the factors of production and only a small fraction of production being marketed.
Substantial financial support has been provided by the EU under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) in the field of agriculture and rural development, food safety, veterinary, phytosanitary, and fishery policies. Many infrastructure and institution-building projects such as the establishment of a Land Parcel Identification System (LPIS), control and eradication of important animal diseases, establishment of key information systems, strengthening the official food control system (laboratory infrastructure), the introduction of stock assessment in fisheries management system, etc. have been supported by the EU through the IPA budget (€250 million excluding support for IPARD) over 2002-2013.
The Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance in Rural Development (IPARD) is assisting Turkey to implement the CAP acquis communautaire and to align to the EU structures through financial assistance under a multi-annual rural development programme. IPARD represents a very solid example of EU-Turkish cooperation in financial assistance. With more than 11,000 projects and nearly €2 billion in total investment, IPARD has so far created 50,000 jobs.
The EU has confirmed a new package of support "IPARD II" for the next six years, and this will bring an additional €800 million to Turkey. It will feature a large degree of continuity with the old programme, albeit offering some more support to innovation and skills development by introducing support for renewable energy infrastructure as well as community development initiatives (LEADER) and agri-environment measures.