Lessons Learned from Reform and Routine within the CAP 1980 - 2003
Since the 1980s, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the European Union (EU) has been subject to a series of reform attempts, namely in 1984, 1988, 1992, 1999 and 2003. Numerous studies have sought to explain the causes and consequences of these reforms. The studies can broadly categorised depending on whether their emphasis is on rationalist bargaining or constructivist arguing processes. Studies also differ in the number of reforms they examine, single or more. The point of departure for this paper is the view that in order to fully appreciate the insights provided by the literature on reform and routine within the CAP we need to look into the complementary nature of ideational and interest-based approaches. This is not least the case if we want to make use of the comprehensive knowledge available for conceptualising continuity and change in other areas of study. Likewise, lessons may be learned by comparing several (here three) reform attempts as well as developments that take place in-between. The claim being that the periods in-between reforms are as important as the periods leading up to the various reforms. That is, this paper wishes to develop a more comprehensive understanding of policy reform by bridging insights into bargaining and arguing processes within the CAP, and by covering three attempts to reform the CAP with a time horizon stretching from 1980 to 2003.