Agricultural Policy in Europe

Darren Halpin (Department of Economics and Public Policy, The Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, UK)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Article publication date: 4 April 2008



Halpin, D. (2008), "Agricultural Policy in Europe", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 21 No. 3, pp. 314-315.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

This volume is a welcome and novel addition to the literature on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The core argument of the book is that the CAP is not common and less about agriculture. This approach, as Greer argues, stands at odds with the vast majority of existing research on the CAP which focuses on EU level intergovernmental negotiations, rather than at national variations and politics.

For Greer, the CAP is less about agriculture in several senses: policy actors extend beyond agricultural ministries and farm unions, while “agricultural” policy themes extend to agri‐environment and rural development. The CAP is less common because national variations exist at all points in the policy cycle: a process given impetus by policy discourses of multifunctionality and the structural differences between nations (and regions). The broad argument is backed up with a solid and well researched set of national case studies, set within a well constructed comparative public policy framework. Case selection is appropriate and well defended at the outset. The chapters are structured around the policy cycle, commencing with agenda setting and ending with evaluation. Each chapter addresses a policy stage and draws on comparative evidence across country cases. This approach adds to the clarity of the book and provides a valuable roadmap for the reader.

The book draws on many of the well accepted bodies of literature in public policy, such as multi‐level governance, the policy cycle and policy networks. However the volume also engages with a diverse set of sources in agricultural economics, public policy and rural sociology/geography. This attention to the broader social scientific literature ensures that the book is relevant well beyond policy scholars. Indeed, this is a book that will appeal to a broad audience. CAP specialists will appreciate the up‐to‐date material and novel argument. EU public policy scholars will see value in the breadth of case studies and the comparative design: a useful basis for highlighting domestic policy dynamics, especially in the implementation phases. Rural sociologists and geographers will find the discussion of rural development policy particularly salient. At a number of levels and for a broad audience, this book will be a welcome addition to the book shelf; and a valuable resource for advanced undergraduate and postgraduate teaching on EU public policy.

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