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Curbing Agricultural Exceptionalism: The EU's Response to External Challenge

Carsten Daugbjerg and Alan Swinbank ()

The World Economy, 2008, vol. 31, issue 5, 631-652

Abstract: From 1948 to 1994, the agricultural sector was afforded special treatment in the GATT. We analyse the extent to which this agricultural exceptionalism was curbed as a result of the GATT Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture, discuss why it was curbed and finally explore the implication of this for EU policy making. We argue that, in particular, two major changes in GATT institutions brought about restrictions on agricultural exceptionalism. First, the Uruguay Round was a ‘single undertaking’ in which progress on other dossiers was contingent upon an outcome on agriculture. The EU had keenly supported this new decision rule in the GATT. Within the EU this led to the MacSharry reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in 1992, paving the way for a trade agreement on agriculture within the GATT. Second, under the new quasi‐judicial dispute settlement procedure, countries are expected to bring their policies into conformity with WTO rules or face retaliatory trade sanctions. This has brought about a greater willingness on the part of the EU to submit its farm policy to WTO disciplines.

Date: 2008
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