Although the history of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is dominated by a process of centralization, growing pressures to integrate agri-environmental problems into the CAP have revealed the need to embrace decentralized approaches in an efficient federal structure. Indeed, in recent years it has become increasingly evident that the agricultural sector must undergo fundamental changes in order to enter an era of sustainable development. The authors of this book do not believe that this will be an easy process, not only because agricultural policies in Europe are dominated by specific interest groups, but primarily because integrating environmental aspects into the CAP requires difficult institutional change at different levels. Centralized decision making at the EU level had characterized recent agricultural policy and the authors argue that centralized and hierarchical governance structures may fail to produce adequate solutions if they are not linked to regional and more diverse institutional arrangements.
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