Sea of Ignorance

A new Eurobarometer survey has found that 72 per cent of respondents considered themselves to be uninformed on agricultural issues and over half (54 per cent) had never heard or read about the CAP. The 43 per cent who claim to have at least some degree of awareness comprises of 34 per cent who say ‘they don’t really know exactly what it is’ and just 9 per cent who say they know ‘exactly what it is’.

Not surprisingly, the highest level of awareness is found in France, where almost two-thirds (64 per cent) have heard of the CAP and nearly one in five (19 per cent) are exactly aware. There is also high awareness in two other beneficiary member states, Ireland (61 per cent, 16 per cent exactly aware) and Poland (60 per cent, 10 per cent exactly aware).

Having been told that 40 per cent of the overall EU budget is spent on agriculture, only 16 per cent thought this was too high and almost 6 in 10 thought that this share should stay the same or increase in coming years. But then presumably if one told some respondents that 40 per cent of the EU budget went on supporting small shopkeepers, one might get a similar pattern of answers.

Those questioned (41 per cent) thought that ensuring the health and safety of food products should be the main priority of the CAP and one might question how far that forms part of the policy.

In between public ignorance and concentrated interests seeking to defend the CAP, it’s difficult to find a space in which reformists can insert themselves.

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2 Replies to “Sea of Ignorance”

  1. I do love the way that the Commission phrases its questions to elicit the answers it wants. For instance, the question on whether the CAP budget is too much, too little or about right. The question fails to tell the interviewees what the total for CAP spending actually is! Instead, it says that the CAP takes around 40% of the EU budget. Well unless people happen to know what the total EU budget is, they’ll have no way of deducing what the 40% means in cold, hard cash.

    Phrase the question another way, “The EU budget for agriculture and rural development represents around €55 billion annually. Do you think that this amount is insufficient, adequate or too high?” and I suspect the answer would be rather different.

    Read the Eurobarometer report for yourself, here.

  2. I agree with J. Thurston. Even in the most pro-Cap countries, the public opinion has become very critical of the CAP for 2 years (well, Oxfam helped, so did, and the various mad cows and FMD which showed the public opinion that agriculture was not the bucolic farmer ploughing with a horse shown in commercials). It is visible in every debate, even in France. Still, you don’t see anything in EuroBarometer… strange.

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