Levy, Roger P. and Stancich, Lara. (1997) "The exception that proves the rule? The case of the MacSharry reforms for the CAP". In: UNSPECIFIED, Seattle, WA. (Unpublished)
The EU is often portrayed as a system of multi-level governance in which decision making is an attenuated process hedged by the desire to accommodate national group interests to proposed new policies. In this context, incrementalism and immobilism are almost guaranteed. As far as agriculture is concerned, most informed commentators and practitioners agree that the strength of national producer interests has been fundamental in preventing any radical reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) since its inception. The so-called MacSharry reforms of 1991-92 appear to be different. Not only were they the single most comprehensive set of changes made to the CAP in its history, but they were also effected relatively swiftly from their first appearance to the draft legislation. Within the theoretical framework of Althusser’s model of historical change, this paper reviews the literature on CAP decision making and the MacSharry reforms in particular from the perspective of mobilist and immobilist explanations. Using primary and secondary data, it then suggests that hitherto neglected factors need to be taken into account when analysing the reforms in a composite explanatory model.
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