This article seeks to explain the emergence of the CAP between 1958 and 1968. It draws attention to four particular political factors that made the policy’s birth possible, despite the vagueness of the Treaty of Rome commitment to an agricultural policy and the unpromising precedents of earlier attempts to integrate Europe’s agriculture. These were the strength of the coalition pushing for the CAP’s emergence (primarily composed of France, the Netherlands and the European Commission), the weakness and inconsistencies of their opponents (Germany and Italy), the favourable international context, and the incremental nature of the policy’s development. The article further argues that the complexity of the bargaining over the farm support policy, and the manner in which CAP discussions often became entwined with other seemingly unrelated aspects of EEC decision-making, illustrate how even the early Community of the 1960s was sufficiently complex to require a radical change of approach from those who wish to study its historical development.
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