The aim of the paper is to investigate how agricultural relative incomes have changed in recent years, since the CAP has switched its emphasis from price support to rural development. The distributional implications of agricultural and rural policies are indirectly evaluated looking at the dynamics of earnings and wages in agriculture, as well as at the rural household incomes described through monetary and non monetary variables, so to proxy their living standards. Our concern is not particularly on the agricultural policy tools, as much as on the evaluation of their end results. A comparison spanning through time and across countries is performed on the basis of the information provided by the ECHP and EU-SILC surveys. The paper seeks to unravel the differences between rural and urban population in the different European areas and offers a description of how successes and failures varied, keeping the CAP in the background.