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The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is the first common policy legally established since the foundation of the then European Economic Community (EEC). It operates clear and strictly binding rules for its member-states absorbing a large amount of community financial resources. During its long standing (over forty years of existence), the CAP has frequently undergone far-reaching changes and adjustments with a view of responding to contemporary challenges of a rapidly evolving world, on the front of finance, environment, consumption, etc, and aligning with international and national provisions and commitments resulted in the context of various international organizations such as WTO, OECD, FAO, etc, in which the European Union participates either as a full member or an observer status or otherwise.
The European Union successfully maintains diplomatic relations with a large number of countries all over the world and, in this sense, it plays an increasingly influential role on a global level.
With the original Treaties of the European Union established as they have been evolved over the years, a large amount of sovereign rights and powers have been transferred to the Institutions of the European Union, the European Commission in particular, which exercises its legal rights on their behalf, responding officially to all commitments stipulated and agreed in the Treaties. Under the recently launched European Constitution, subject to ratification of member states, the functions of the Commission (mainly as a manager, negotiator and guardian of the Treaties) will be increasingly broadened and more clarified.
The export trade is considered to be the most but not the sole important basis of the external relations of the EU negotiating with trade partners, determining tariff procedures, free-tariff agreements or reduction, quota-tariff imports and related matters.
CAP is directly related to the implementation of a new common export policy, which, in turn, is related to commitments arising out of jointly signed International Conventions. On the basis of this framework, the operation of the CAP is closely related to the operation of the Common Commercial Policy.
During the operation of the CAP, several negotiating Rounds have taken place in the context of then GATT, lately replaced by WTO in 1995, in which agriculture was the main subject of negotiations resulting eventually in successful agreements.
Over the last three years, there have been ongoing negotiations with agriculture in focus, in the framework of Development Doha Agenda (D.D.A) as a continuous process of Uruguay’s Round terminated in 2000.
A new agreement ever reached will have a strong impact on the international trade in the direction of its further liberalization affecting profoundly farmers’ domestic support, in particular the part of it which is strongly responsible for the distortion of international trade in agricultural products.
Beyond the multilateral trade negotiations and agreements, the European Union signs trade agreements with third countries after intensive consultations with the countries concerned, which are eventually binding for implementation for its member states. These agreements may be in the form of preferential ones or not, specific agreements for commodities or partnerships (such as EU - Australia agreement for wines or EU – Russia agreement on veterinary sector, etc.
All the above agriculture issues related to CAP fall into the responsibility of our Ministry of Rural Development and Food and to a large extent into the competence of the Directorate for Agricultural Policy and Documentation.
Our Directorate participates actively with our experts either directly or indirectly via coordination parties convened in order to formulate a common stance that will eventually represent the position of the European Union in international Fora.
Our country, while being a member of the European Union since 1981 with all its commitments arising out of its signed Treaty, has established bilateral relations with several countries by signing protocols or partnerships which are part of foreign policy coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
These protocols are inevitably signed with developing countries expecting assistance in know-how, educational in certain specific areas etc. The existence of this kind of cooperation will potentially form the basis of building better commercial relations for mutual benefit in the long run.

More information: Sotiris Koutsomitros, tel.: 210 212 55 08  E-mail: ax2u114@minagric.gr