BRUSSELS, BELGIUM – The European Commission launched on Feb. 2 the first phase of the modernization and simplification of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) with the opening of a three-month public comment period.

E.U. leaders have said a modernized and simplified CAP will address the key challenges that agriculture and rural areas are facing while contributing to policy priorities, notably jobs and growth.

“By launching this public consultation, we are asking all stakeholders and those interested in the future of food and farming in Europe to participate in shaping a policy for all the people of Europe,” said Phil Hogan, commissioner of E.U. Agriculture and Rural Development. “This public consultation feeds directly into the roadmap for the Future Common Agricultural Policy announced by President Juncker in December.  By designing a roadmap for the future, I am confident it can deliver even more. But we must refine it, and revitalize it, and – of course – we must adequately fund it."

The public comment period will run for 12 weeks, ending May 2, and will give farmers, citizens, organizations and any other interested parties the chance to have their say on the future of the CAP. The input from the consultation will be used by the commission to help draft a communication, due by the end of 2017 that will include conclusions on the current performance of the CAP and potential policy options for the future based on reliable evidence.

The results of the public consultation will be published online and presented by Commissioner Hogan at a conference in Brussels in July.

Information on how to make a comment is available here.

First launched in 1962, the CAP is one of the E.U.'s longest-standing policies and has evolved over the years to meet the changing challenges of agricultural markets. Although the most recent reforms date from 2013, there have been several fundamental developments since then to which the CAP needs to respond more effectively, such as increased market uncertainty and falling prices, new international commitments on climate change and sustainable development, the E.U. commission said.