The European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which came out of the Treaty of Rome, has always occupied a key place in European construction. It did so particularly at Europe’s beginnings, in a context of food shortage that inspired a drive for agricultural production. In the end, however, the CAP became a victim of its own success and occasioned enormous levels of expenditure, particularly in the 1980s when a huge part of the community budget was devoted to it. Hence the reforms successively introduced in 1992, 1999 and, most importantly, 2003, aimed largely at revising the forms of assistance given to agricultural production, agricultural pricing policy and the general logic of the programme (lending greater weight to nutritional quality and the sustainable management of the environment). These were tangible reforms produced in tough negotiations and they are due to run until 2013.
In this context, and insofar as France is particularly concerned by the CAP, a French interdepartmental working group embarked in 2009/10 on a foresight exercise on the future of the CAP to 2020 – in other words, beyond the 2013 deadline when a new CAP reform falls due. This was under the leadership of Bernard Bourget. After a brief presentation of the approach and method employed, Bourget gives an account here of the main lessons learned from this exercise and, in particular, develops six possible scenarios for the CAP in 2020, depending on various assumptions made about the environment, food needs, support for agricultural incomes and international competition etc.