Overcoming trade distortions
Abstract: This bachelor thesis in political science focuses on the possibility to achieve reforms of the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy, making the policy less trade distorting. Sociological, Historical and Rational Choice Institutionalism are applied to explain both the persistence and the evolution of the CAP. Persistence is mainly attributed to the decision making level of the CAP in combination with the perception of agriculture as a unique sector that requires state assistance, which makes radical reforms or an abolishment of the policy close to inconceivable. A moderate approach thus appears more realistic. This thesis identifies external pressure from trade negotiations as the primary driver of reform. Modulation, shifting funds to the less trade-distorting Rural Development Pillar, is identified as the primary tool for making successful reforms while still preserving the legitimacy of the CAP. An assessment of the three institutionalisms concludes that they lack the ability to explain the drivers of reform, but are however highly instrumental in explaining inertia as well as the evolution of the tools necessary for reform to be successful.
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