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Public Favour Support For Farmers

31 March 2010

EU - European citizens broadly support the new aims of agricultural policy as conducted at European Union level and a majority are in favour of maintaining its budget, according to a survey of people's attitudes to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Following two similar, recent polls carried out in 2006 and 2007, this latest survey confirms that the guiding principles and aims of the CAP are supported by a majority of people.

An overwhelming majority of European citizens consider that agriculture and the rural environment are vital issues for Europe's future (average 90 per cent – ranging from 96 per cent in Greece to 80 per cent in the United Kingdom).

European public opinion continues to be broadly in favour of the CAP's new aims, which are to help farmers to meet the challenges arising from climate change, to become more market-oriented, to allocate support more fairly and to make it conditional on compliance with environmental standards, to maintain the countryside and to develop the rural economy.

According to public opinion, the agricultural policy should focus on ensuring the quality and safety of agricultural products, provide a decent standard of living for farmers and ensure reasonable prices for consumers, protect the environment and rise to the challenges of climate change.

The support for agricultural policy is accompanied by a general preference for the policy to be conducted at European level. Whether it is the protection of the environment, rising to the challenges of climate change, security of supply, ensuring the quality and safety of food or providing a decent standard of living for farmers, citizens believe all these issues should be dealt with at European level.

This year's survey also included a new series of questions about agriculture and climate change. On this point, almost half the respondents (46 per cent) believe that agriculture has already made a major contribution to combating climate change. A large majority (82 per cent) agree that the EU must help farmers to change the way they work in order to combat climate change. A similar proportion of respondents (77 per cent) believe that agriculture will be greatly affected by climate change over the next few years and two thirds (61 per cent) do not believe that agriculture is one of the principal causes of climate change.

The recognition of the fundamental role of agriculture in Europe explains the high level of support among those polled for maintaining the subsidies paid to farmers (83 per cent). The vast majority of people interviewed (68 per cent) also consider the CAP budget to be either adequate or insufficient, compared with only 12 per cent who believe it is too high. Looking ahead, 72 per cent take the view that financial assistance to farmers in the European Union over the next ten years should increase or remain more or less the same. The percentage of people who think the budget for agricultural policy should increase has been rising for the last three years.

The survey was carried out between 13 November and 9 December 2009 by TNS Opinion at the behest of the European Commission's Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development.

Following the traditional Eurobarometer method, a thousand individual interviews were conducted in each of the twenty-seven Member States of the European Union.

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