The CAP is one of the most controversial EU policies and is the primary reason why the UK contributes more to the EU than it receives in return. In 2010 the EU spent €43.8 bn on agriculture (31% of the EU budget). Over the period of the current financial perspective (2007 to 2013) the UK will have contributed over €30 bn to the CAP, of which it only receives a proportion in return for UK farmers. Add to this the hidden cost of higher UK food bills resulting from protectionism and the CAP has a real economic impact on every family.
Founded in 1957 under the Treaty of Rome as a response to the food shortages of the period, the CAP was focused on increasing production and price stability created through subsidy and protectionism. There have been many attempts to reform the CAP. The latest attempt in 2008 created the Single Farm Payment. UK Governments of all parties have consistently attempted to push for further CAP reform but have largely failed.
The Fresh Start Project will look into whether it is appropriate for the EU to use its budget to support agriculture, re-examine whether the original ideas behind the CAP remain relevant, and its impact on third world farmers and UK food prices. It will also identify whether it is possible for the UK to withdraw from the CAP and its budgetary implications while remaining within the EU.