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Abstract

Three potential explanations of past CAP reforms have been identified in the literature: a budget constraint, pressure from GATT/WTO negotiations or commitments, and a paradigm shift emphasising agriculture’s provision of public goods. The presentation, content and context of the Health Check reform proposals of 2007/08 are assessed. The proposals are probably more ambitious than first supposed. The Health Check was not primarily driven by budget pressures; the European Commission’s wish to adopt an offensive negotiating stance in the closing phases of the Doha Round was a more likely explanatory factor. The EU’s response to the commodity price spikes in 2008, and its Health Check proposals, suggest that the supposed switch from a state-assisted policy paradigm to the multifunctional paradigm is more apparent than real. The shape and purpose of the CAP post- 2013 is contested, with quite divergent views among the Member States

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