1The question of the relationship between the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the environment first surfaced in a European context in the 1980s, initially as a political problem.  European and national agricultural authorities took up the issue and this led to a number of regulatory changes at the margins of the CAP;  thus, in 1992, agri-environment measures (AEM) were introduced as “accompanying measures” as part of the reform of the CAP.  Henceforth, member states were tasked with developing programmes which rewarded farming practices designed to protect the environment and preserve cultivated landscapes.
2However it was only in the 1990s that the question of the relationship between the CAP and the environment was constructed as a public problem; and from this point onwards, environmentalists, farmers’ representatives and researchers disputed the precise nature of this relationship. Multiple visions emerged, opening up a number of possible future directions: on behalf of European environmentalists, Birdlife International denounced the pollution resulting from the increasingly intensive farming practices brought about by the CAP and suggested that it be replaced by a policy which rewarded the “environmental services” that farmers offered. The major European farming union COPA-COGECA denied that any environmental damage had been caused by the CAP and presented European agriculture as being in and of itself “good” for the environment and landscape. Finally, rival union Coordination paysanne européenne (CPE) proposed countering the negative environmental effects which resulted from the emphasis on productivity-driven farming espoused by the CAP by introducing policy instruments to limit agricultural intensification.
3Some time later, at the beginning of the 2000s, the possible futures framed by these competing interpretations were closed down. The vision espoused by Birdlife International and European environmentalists prevailed within the ranks of CAP actors and became the object of wide consensus. All parties – or nearly all – agreed that the European Community authorities should recompense the “environmental services” provided by farmers, and others who managed agricultural land as part of their professional activity. As “public goods”, environmental services effectively fall outside the scope of commodities markets, thus justifying public intervention. On the European stage, for the environmentalists, the farmers’ representatives, landowners and scientists, as well as the European Community authorities, the case was clear. Admittedly, there was no agreement between these key actors as to the place which the objective of providing public goods should occupy within the CAP; but the vision of the relationship between the CAP and the environment in terms of a public good constituted the shared understanding which formed the basis for these actors’ struggles over both this issue, and perhaps more widely over the CAP itself.
4The question of the relationship between the CAP and the environment thus provides an excellent case-study for examining how, over the long-term, a public problem is defined. How, over a period of around twenty years, did Birdlife International and the European environmentalists manage to impose the legitimacy of their vision of the relationship between the CAP and the environment? How did they succeed in creating a broad and tacit consensus which defined a framework for shared meaning between the actors involved in the CAP, and a label for the struggles which these actors fought around it?
5To answer these questions, this article draws on insights from analyses of how public problems are constructed, whilst at the same time exploring the largely neglected question of how such problems develop over the long-term. Studies of public problems aim to trace their “career”, identifying the actors who initially flagged the problem and who, by mobilising, brought the issue to public attention, thus forcing elected representatives and civil servants to take responsibility for dealing with it.  The authors of these analyses emphasise the sense-making work undertaken by “political entrepreneurs”  as part of the process of constructing a public problem and getting it on the agenda. They thus frequently make use of the concept of “frames” as developed by Erving Goffman:  espousing an issue and mobilising to promote it implies imputing meaning to it, or inviting the wider public to share your interpretative framework (or “schemata of interpretation”, in Goffman’s terms).  But in their reliance on a sequential approach to public policy, these analysts of public problems have primarily focused their attention on the conditions which led to the emergence of such problems and to their inclusion on the governmental agenda, leaving aside the question of how they developed over the longer-term.  In such research, the career of a public problem is punctuated by three main stages:  the transformation of private troubles into public problems; the public attempts to define the issue; and finally, its inclusion on the governmental agenda (more rarely, the formulation and implementation of a public policy).
6This article proposes a shift in focus to an analysis of the definition of a public problem over the long-term, over and above the stages of its emergence and inclusion on the political agenda. Effectively, the issues which are the subject of public action are also the object of endless clashes throughout the whole public policy cycle. This study covers a period of around twenty years and aims to show how one vision of the relationship between the CAP and the environment came to be accepted as legitimate, and brought about consensus on this issue.
7In so doing, and in posing the question of how a public problem is defined over the long-term, this article links back to Joseph Gusfield’s seminal enquiry into the “ownership” of public problems.  More specifically, my analysis here seeks to shed light on how a broad and tacit consensus can be constructed around a political issue, such that it constitutes a framework of meaning which is able to delimit the struggles which unwind around it. To this end, this article will focus on the development of the “frame”, which enables sense to be made of the problem; viz, the emergence of the frame during a moment of doubt or confusion as to how a phenomenon should be interpreted; followed by the establishment of the frame when circumstances no longer threaten the certainties which attach to it; and finally, the transmission of the frame, when its focus, or scope, is extended to new actors.  Following Yves Surel, public action frames are understood as “coherent systems of normative and cognitive elements which define, in a given field, ‘world views’, mechanisms of identity formation, principles of action, as well as methodological prescriptions and practices for actors subscribing to the same frame”. 
8In order to grasp how a broad tacit consensus was constructed around a public problem – in other words, the processes of emergence, establishment and transmission of a public action frame – this article develops a constructivist analysis centred on actors.  More specifically, it borrows its theoretical tools from the cognitive analysis of public policy proposed by Bruno Jobert and Pierre Muller.  From this perspective my aim is to conduct a sociological analysis of the cognitive and symbolic struggles in which competing actors engage in order to rally other actors to their cause by redefining their interests.  To understand the dynamics of these struggles we need to identify the various resources which these actors deploy, and the advantages which these resources offer them in the battles they wage with one another.  Conflicts of this type encompass both a cognitive and a normative dimension (in that they imply decoding and recoding the world) and a hegemonic dimension (in that they result in a reconfiguration of the balance of power between the groups in conflict).  In this approach, analysis thus focuses on the actors competing to produce a dominant vision of a problem and its solutions. For a given issue, the aim is to identify the rival visions of a problem, and the strategies of persuasion which actors devise to overcome their competitors and assimilate them “ideologically”, as well as the resources they mobilise to do so. Hence such analyses of a given issue also frequently account for the gradual exclusion of rival visions espoused by competing actors, leading instead to a homegenisation of actors’ cognitive and normative frameworks.
Sources and methodology
Documentary analysis enabled me to identify actors’ struggles by pinpointing the positions they adopted. Covering a period from the 1980s to 2008-2009, this involved working with three types of document: grey literature (mostly documents from environmental and farming organisations); institutional literature (documents belonging to European agricultural and environmental authorities); and academic literature (economics journals – for example, the European Review of Agricultural Economics – and scientific ecology journals, such as Nature).
I carried out semi-structured interviews which allowed me to decipher the precise strategies of actors, by identifying their resources, their interactions, and their interdependencies. In particular, since I had already established the positions these actors had adopted, here I concentrated on pinpointing the strategies they had devised to ensure their positions carried weight, and the resources which they had invested to this end. This article draws on around twenty interviews which I conducted in 2008 and 2009 in Brussels with representatives from farming and environmental organisations and with staff from the European Commission. It also draws on interviews conducted with academics (agricultural economists in particular) and sustainable development consultants.
9Taking this analytical approach, then, in order to understand how a consensus was constructed within Europe concerning the vision of the relationship between the CAP and the environment as a public good, we need to turn towards the actors who promoted this frame, providing a favourable context for its emergence, establishment and transmission. My broad hypothesis is that this shift can be viewed as the result of symbolic and cognitive battles waged by certain European environmentalists, notably Birdlife International, who succeeded in persuading the other major actors involved in the CAP of the legitimacy of their vision. This process can thus be seen as the starting-point for a socialisation phenomenon, despite the conflicts which accompanied it. This hypothesis can be pursued via three mutually reinforcing avenues of research.
10First, the success of the European environmentalists was a result of their ability to make strategic use of scientific and technical knowledge to demonstrate to an audience characterised by a wide range of national traditions and cultures that their vision of agriculture and the CAP was both supported by evidence and was necessary.  In particular, their reference to economics (specifically to the economy of well-being) allowed them to anticipate and exploit global socio-economic trends to further their interests; in making reference to the “global” (international trade agreements, the enlargement of the EU to the East) they established the inevitability of the announced changes (the CAP reform moving towards assuming responsibility for public goods) whilst simultaneously discrediting alternative viewpoints, which were seen as belonging to the obsolete past.  Second, the success of the European environmentalists can be ascribed to the “soft logic”  of their vision of agriculture and the CAP: the public good perspective was apt to be reappropriated in various ways and came to be the dominant vision for all those who – lacking alternative interpretive frameworks – were inclined to absorb certain of its tenets, whether consciously or not. Of course, this inclination was bolstered by the decline in – or simply the lack of – competing expertise.  Third, the success of the European environmentalists is a function of the public good perspective becoming incorporated into Community law. Their interpretation, which became the official vision and was translated into policy, tends now to be recognised as the legitimate interpretation of the relationship between the CAP and the environment: as Bourdieu has highlighted, one effect of the symbolic power of the state is the way in which interpretive frameworks – which, before their institutionalisation, were the subject of endless struggles – subsequently become “naturalised”. 
11In order to trace the way in which consensus concerning the relationship between the CAP and the environment was constructed in the European context, this article starts by describing the emergence of the frame espoused by Birdlife International and the European environmentalists in the 1990s, then its establishment through its incorporation into Community law at the beginning of the 2000s. Finally, it considers the symbolic effects wrought by these changes, which worked in favour of the frame’s transmission.
The emergence of the frame: the key role played by environmentalists
12It was at the beginning of the 1990s that questions first started to be asked within a European context about the relationship between the CAP and the environment. Environmental activists – specifically those from the higher echelons of Birdlife International – controlled this process: they became aware of the issue early on, defined it, and made it public. These actors made effective use of multiple sources of expertise, lending their vision the mantle of a scientific conclusion, and discrediting the competing viewpoints put forward tentatively by farming representatives. It would thus be no overstatement to say that the environmentalists had a monopoly over the emerging debate on the relationship between the CAP and the environment, and that they effectively controlled the terms in which this debate was constructed.
Birdlife International: mouthpiece for European environmentalists on matters pertaining to agriculture and the CAP
13At the beginning of the 1990s, those in charge of the English environmental organisation the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) worked through the Brussels office of Birdlife International to achieve a double impact: they introduced the question of the relationship between the CAP and the environment onto the European political agenda; and at the same time they established themselves as the mouthpiece of European environmental movements, thus ensuring that the latter shared their vision of the issue.
14The CAP came into force in the UK in 1973, meaning that environmentalists developed an early awareness of the effect of its measures on the environment.  High guaranteed agricultural prices effectively encouraged farmers to dig up their grassland to plant cereal crops. English environmentalists, including the heads of powerful organisations such as the RSPB, began to mobilise concerning agriculture and the CAP.  The subsequent battles were something entirely new at European level.  At the beginning of the 1990s the RSPB decided to switch the focus of their campaign to the European level, henceforth targeting EC authorities.  This new strategy was a result of changing economic and political circumstances. First, the Single European Act (1986) introduced a new Title to the Treaty of Rome concerning the protection of the environment, which led to the rapid growth of European environmental policy.  Embodying the principle of environmental policy integration within EC sectoral policies, this legal shift was seen as a resource by environmental activists. At the same time, the European Commission Directorate-General for the Environment, which was seeking interlocutors in order to develop its policies, was encouraging environmental organisations to establish a base in Brussels by covering their running costs.  It was against this background that the senior executives of the RSPB set up the Brussels branch of Birdlife International. Next, the reform of the CAP, which was announced in 1992, acted as a catalyst for the mobilisation of the RSPB. Effectively, as a result of the inclusion of agriculture in the international trade negotiations in 1986, a few years later the CAP underwent significant reform of its policy instruments – its main guaranteed prices were lowered and as a transitional arrangement compensation was paid directly to farmers in the form of subsidies.  The reform thus left the future of the CAP uncertain: it was still unclear at its outcome what the future of the transitional arrangement of direct subsidies was to be. The question was all the more pressing given that, as a result of international trade agreements, guaranteed prices were shortly to be abolished, thereby increasing the amount payable in transitional subsidies. Agro-environment measures (AEM) were first introduced as part of this reform. In this context, at the beginning of the 1990s those in charge at the RSPB faced the challenge of taking advantage of the unfolding CAP reforms to direct their budget to nature conservation projects. The RSPB controlled significant resources from a variety of sources to pursue this goal.  At the beginning of the 1990s the society had nearly a million members, employed 600 members of staff, and was one of the largest landowners in the UK. Its financial resources were such that the Society was able to set up the Brussels office of Birdlife International in order to pursue its campaign concerning agriculture and the CAP at European level. Since 1993 it has chaired a working group on agriculture, whose lobbying activities it finances. As well as its financial resources, the RSPB also makes the benefits of its expertise on agriculture and the CAP available to Birdlife International. At the end of the 1980s, the RSPB created an agricultural policy team which, ten years later, had around ten lobbyists working for it, some with general expertise (economists, political scientists) and some with specialist knowledge (agronomists). The latter work closely with the nature conservation team, which is made up of ecologists and biologists.
15At the point at which the RSPB began to act at European level, it also established itself, via Birdlife International, as the mouthpiece of the European environmentalists on agriculture and the CAP. As noted above, it drew on significant resources from a variety of sources to do so. Moreover, there was a real division of activist labour between the European environmental organisations, who concentrated on their own concerns thus limiting competition between them.  Thus, on behalf of European environmentalists, from the beginning of the 1990s the RSPB and Birdlife International communicated a particular vision of the relationship between the CAP and the environment. They called for the dismantling of the common agricultural market which had been introduced by the 1992 reform. It was the view of these organisations that, insofar as a market existed for agricultural and food products, the CAP should limit its responsibilities to market failures, and to the provision of environmental public goods.
“In general terms markets should determine the amounts paid to farmers for their food production. However, markets fail to provide the environmental benefits that society demands. Incentives should therefore be introduced in order to achieve environmental objectives.” 
17Thus, according to the RSPB and Birdlife International, the CAP should be replaced by an agro-environmental policy which rewarded environmental services provided by farmers and agricultural land managers. Their proposals for agriculture and the CAP are summed up in the phrase “public money for public goods”. These actors drew effectively on multiple sources of expertise to support and promote their vision.
Strategic use of expertise
18Given the resources at their disposal, it will come as no surprise that the RSPB and Birdlife International chose to base their strategy on expertise rather than on claiming popular support.  Their lobbyists were able to deploy technical and scientific knowledge to support and promote their vision of agriculture and the CAP. This lent their apparently depoliticised vision an air of universality, and made future changes seem inevitable. Before taking a closer look at how the RSPB and Birdlife International used this scientific and technical expertise, we should note that they always positioned themselves through the medium of a position paper: couched in official language, their communications resembled legal texts, setting out recitals, objectives, instruments, and budgetary considerations. European in scope, these position papers always drew on national examples, included in the text as highlighted boxes, which served to demonstrate both their in-depth knowledge of the field, and the evidence base of their proposals.
19The RSPB and Birdlife International mobilised three distinct sources of expertise. First, their vision drew on the knowledge of agricultural economists.  From the beginning of their campaign at the end of the 1980s their lobbyists made use of the latters’ expertise, both to define their vision but also to promote and support it. Agricultural economists, who worked within a neo-classicist paradigm and followed the tenets of the economics of wellbeing, had been constructing a case against the CAP since the end of the 1970s, theorising its budgetary, economic, commercial and environmental failures.  With few exceptions, their analyses came to the same conclusion: that the common agricultural market should be dismantled. For the leading figures of European agricultural economics – such as Allan Buckwell and Ewa Rabinowicz who chaired the European Association of Agricultural Economics (EAAE) in the 1980s and 1990s – the CAP should move towards a return to the market. As a consequence the scope of its intervention would be strictly limited to correcting market failures, which chiefly concerned environmental public goods.  Because it was a perspective which was based on the market, these economists felt that this was the only way forward for the CAP: a solution which fitted within the framework of international trade negotiations, and which, by limiting the scope of CAP intervention, made possible its extension to the Eastern European countries who were applying to join the EC. The RSPB and Birdlife International lobbyists took up these arguments and systematically made reference to the developing relationship between the CAP and socio-economic trends to confirm the validity and necessity of their vision in terms of a public good, thereby simultaneously disqualifying alternative viewpoints.
“We believe that in the short term a number of reforms will be necessary to meet the agreements reached in the GATT Uruguay Round and to enable the scheduled European enlargement to the East. We need a new contract which must be based on the principle that, in public policy terms, public money must only be paid for public goods. There can be no other justification for taxpayer support for agricultural policy. In order to halt their environmental, commercial and budgetary damage, production subsidies should be gradually and selectively reduced. Subsidies should only apply to farming systems, products and regions which clearly contribute to the protection of the countryside and of biodiversity.” 
21Second, the positions adopted by the RSPB and Birdlife International were based on the technical expertise of sustainable development consultants. Both organisations – and indeed English environmental organisations more widely – maintain close links with a London-based think tank, the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP).  The Institute was established at the beginning of the 1980s and specialises in the development of environmental policy instruments, from their conception to their evaluation. Its studies are based on the economic analysis of public policies, measured by the relationship between costs and benefits. From the outset, and at the request of the RSPB and other English environmental organisations, the IEEP consultants took the relationship between the CAP and the environment as the starting-point for their analyses.  Their expertise on this subject rapidly assumed considerable significance.  As they sought to assess the effectiveness of the first agri-environmental programmes implemented in member states from the end of the 1980s, the consultants identified in their evaluations the failings in European agro-environmental policy and made proposals which were deemed “effective” and “workable”. We should note that one of their many recommendations was the idea of establishing reference levels between environmental costs and benefits. For agricultural economists, the provision of environmental services is only possible if there is a threshold which serves to distinguish positive externalities (public goods) from negative externalities (pollution).  This explains the continual emphasis in IEEP analyses of agro-environmental policy from the beginning of the 1990s on the need for agro-environmental measures (AEM) to be linked to a further policy instrument which establishes a reference level between environmental costs and services. This instrument, which the IEEP consultants described as making agricultural subsidies dependent on cross-compliance, aimed to make the granting of such subsidies conditional upon respect for environmental criteria.  The RSPB and Birdlife International ran with these recommendations and proposed that the CAP should in future be based on two main policy instruments, agro-environmental measures and payments conditional upon cross-compliance.  Thus, IEEP expertise allowed them to translate their vision into “recipes” for agro-environmental policy.
22Third, and finally, the RSPB and Birdlife International capitalised upon research by ecologists. In England, environmentalists and ecologists enjoy a close relationship;  hence, alongside its activist role, from its beginnings the RSPB has always conducted scientific ecological research, as the result of which it is recognised as an international authority. It was during the 1980s that the Society developed its research into the relationship between the CAP and the environment, and during the 1990s it spent more than two million pounds a year on it. In this research, birds were established as an indicator of the general health of the environment: as they sit at the top of the food chain they are better placed than other species to reflect changes in biological life. In general terms, their investigations aimed to grasp the relationship between the decline in bird populations, agricultural intensification, and the CAP.  Several years later these investigations were covered in the prestigious journal Nature.  Every RSPB or Birdlife International position paper began by demonstrating how the CAP and its main policy instruments had a positive or negative effect on bird populations in particular, and the environment in general. For example, a document published by Birdlife International in 1997, began as follows:
“We believe that birds are emblems of biodiversity and of the state of the environment (…). Good data exist on the status and distribution of birds in Europe. Birds are near to the top of the food chain, one of which humans are also a part. The information that is presented here shows that, across Europe, the greatest threat to – and opportunity for – birds and biodiversity comes from the way that land is managed on farms.” 
24Providing this data – set out species by species in their position papers – means that the question of the relationship between the CAP and the environment is made visible, both objectively and quantifiably. It also means that the issue can be updated over time, by demonstrating the constantly declining numbers for the majority of bird species. In addition, the data lend the question of the relationship between the CAP and the environment a highly dramatic aspect: declining bird populations in particular, and the deterioration of the environment in general, carry a particular emotional charge. Finally, on the basis of this research, the RSPB and Birdlife International lobbyists put forward practical solutions – scientifically validated agro-environmental measures – to reverse the decline in bird populations, species by species. 
25By using technical and scientific knowledge in a variety of ways, RSPB and Birdlife International thus introduced a vision of the CAP to the European stage – a vision which initially appeared to be depoliticised, tested, and universal. It is important to note that drawing on scientific expertise in this way – ecological expertise in particular – allowed them to shift their cause from the specific to the general, from the protection of birds to the protection of the environment as a whole. Although European farming representatives were not silent during the 1990s, they had a negligible impact on the process of frame emergence.
The views of farming professionals: a lack of force
26Not only did the representatives of European farmers develop different views on the relationship between the CAP and the environment, but for the most part they also lacked expertise on the matter. Those in charge of the major European farming union COPA-COGECA viewed the emergence of the problem of the relationship between the CAP and the environment unfavourably, based as it was on a criticism of guaranteed prices. They had effectively grown up with the common agricultural market – and thus with guaranteed prices – and they were unwilling to see this arrangement dismantled; despite the fact that, with the 1992 reform, this dismantlement was already underway.  In their view agricultural production was indeed an economic imperative, but it was also a moral obligation and European farmers had a “vocation” to contribute to satisfying global food needs.  When the debate on the relationship between the CAP and the environment emerged onto the European stage, the leaders of COPA-COGECA developed a two-pronged discourse. On the one hand, they refused to recognise the environmental damage caused by agricultural intensification and the CAP, thus discrediting the relevance of environmental regulations which they claimed burdened the competitiveness of agricultural businesses; on the other hand they highlighted the environmental benefits which were inherent to farming activity. Thus, more or less explicitly, they tended to claim the “public goods” perspective for themselves, not to support the development of agro-environmental policies but to legitimise the continuing payment of direct subsidies as a transitional arrangement. No scientific or technical experts came forward to back up their position, however, and it was not until the beginning of the 2000s that the leaders of COPA-COGECA appointed two “Environment” officers in order to develop expertise on the issue. 
27The leaders of the Coordination paysanne européenne (CPE), in contrast, had denounced the environmental damage caused by the CAP from the beginning of the 1990s. Nonetheless they rejected the “public goods” perspective which, from their point of view, was nothing more than another example of the “commercialisation of nature” as a result of “liberal globalisation”.  For the CPE, the CAP’s emphasis on productivity was the source of European agriculture’s woes. It led to the intensification of farming practices, to specialisation, and to the concentration of agricultural holdings, which meant both fewer farmers and environmental degradation. The CPE opposed the dismantling of the common agricultural market, however. Instead they saw the introduction of differentiated prices as ensuring a minimum income for farmers. They also suggested that it would be possible to reduce the environmental damage caused by the CAP by introducing regulatory instruments (such as limiting the amount of livestock per hectare). However the CPE, like its rival the COPA-COGECA, did not develop any technical or scientific expertise to support the validity and necessity of its proposals. 
28Finally, although the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), which brought together actors from the organic farming sector in Europe, did have a specific interpretation of the relationship between the CAP and the environment in the 1990s, its leaders did not undertake any lobbying activities in this direction. Instead, since they lacked resources,  they concentrated their activities on the development of regulations concerning organic certification, and completely neglected CAP reform. 
29Overall, then, at the beginning of the 1990s, the RSPB and Birdlife International took the lead on behalf of all European environmentalists in the debate about the relationship between the CAP and the environment in Europe. They capitalised on scientific and technical knowledge drawn from a wide variety of sources to project a depoliticised vision, based on the idea of public goods. The representatives of European farming movements, who were divided amongst themselves and lacked expertise, had little influence in constructing the terms of the debate. Hence the RSPB and Birdlife International were behind the emergence of the debate on the relationship between the CAP and the environment; a debate whose terms they controlled. It was in this intellectual climate that the frame espoused by the RSPB and Birdlife International came to be established through its incorporation in law.
Establishing the frame: turning the vision into a policy framed in terms of public goods
30To grasp this change we must first of all examine the new alliance which was struck in the mid-1990s between the leaders of the RSPB and Birdlife International on the one hand, and officials from the European Commission on the other. Next, we shall analyse how the European executive commissioned reports from experts and thus enshrined the vision of the relationship between the CAP and the environment in terms of the public good.
A new alliance between the European Commission and European environmentalists
31At the end of the 1980s, the representatives of European farming unions lost control of the process of defining the CAP.  Whilst the European Commission was set to develop new agricultural policy which took into account the constraints imposed by the new international trade agreements and the European enlargement to the East, both the COPA-COGECA and the CPE were opposed to the dismantling of the common agricultural market.  The 1992 reform of the CAP confirmed the marginalisation of farming representatives when it lowered the major guaranteed agricultural prices and replaced them with direct subsidies as part of a transition arrangement. From this point the departments of the Directorate-General for Agriculture lacked interlocutors; more than this, they lacked a new vision for the CAP, with the reform announced in 1992 leaving its future uncertain. The dismantlement of the common agricultural market was underway; transitional aid had been introduced, but no new programme had been sketched out, although some civil servants saw the agro-environmental measures (which were introduced at the same time) as a “type of pilot project”.  Symbolically the situation was far from insignificant, given that the CAP was then viewed as the cornerstone of the European project. Naturally, for the European environmentalists – who were at this very period beginning to mobilise around issues concerning agriculture and the CAP – this context represented an opportunity. Immediately after the 1992 reform of the CAP the RSPB and Birdlife International set their sights on the Directorate-General for Agriculture, specifically on the Forward Studies Unit, whose staff were responsible for planning the next CAP reform. Their lobbyists stepped up their contacts with the Unit, position papers and expert reports at the ready, to demonstrate that their vision of the CAP in terms of public goods was both necessary and based on evidence. As one of the people in charge at the RSPB and Birdlife International told me, the staff of the Unit were immediately receptive to their overtures.
“Birdlife conducted a campaign in the mid-1990s. We came to see the decision-makers in Brussels. Within the Agriculture DG, there was the unit for prospective studies – something like that – you know, Bruno Buffaria, Martin Scheele and so on. They proved very receptive to the RSPB and Birdlife International. I think they completely shared our vision of the future of the CAP.” 
33In effect, the campaign by the RSPB and Birdlife International resonated particularly strongly with the staff at Unit 01 (Analysis and overall design). What the lobbyists were offering them was a new direction for the CAP – one in sync with the global socio-economic trends, in particular with the international trade agreements and the EU enlargement to the East. Moreover, while the Unit 01 officials were looking for concrete solutions and on-the-ground evidence, the RSPB and Birdlife International were defining what amounted to a ready-made operational vision which could be translated into law. In the middle of the 1990s it was clear that the RSPB and Birdlife International were thinking along the same lines as the European Commission. When Franz Fischler became Commissioner for Agriculture in 1995, one of his first acts after taking up his post was to call for an “integrated rural policy”.
“It is a mistake to think that that we can separate agriculture from the problems of consumption or of the environment. These different aspects make up a whole, at the centre of which is the farmer, as producer and guardian of the rural environment. And it is this specific role that the farmer plays in rural areas and in society more generally which alone justifies the financial support s/he receives, quite apart from the requirement to be competitive.” 
35The alliance between the European environmentalists and the Commission was henceforth sealed. At the same time the Agriculture DG, in a bid to gain support in new quarters, had opened up places on the consultative committees – previously reserved for the COPA-COGECA leaders – to representatives of other organisations, including environmental and consumer organisations.  From this point onwards, Franz Fischler would systematically appeal to “civil society” to legitimise his plans for the CAP.
“[A]gricultural policy must be accepted and supported by society as a whole and not just by a few vested interests […] In these economically stringent times, when all citizens are called on to make savings, they want to keep a close eye on where their hard-earned taxes are being spent. This is also why we need to continue with our reforms. Nothing could be more prejudicial to farmers’ interests than to lose society’s support.” 
37Let us now turn to the work of the ad hoc group of experts established by the European Commission: in formulating the vision for the CAP in terms of public goods they fostered the establishment of the frame promoted by the RSPB and Birdlife International.
Official recognition of the “public goods” vision
38The European Commission mandated a certain number of experts to produce an official vision of the problem of the relationship between the CAP and the environment. These actors were carefully chosen – close to the RSPB and Birdlife International, they included agricultural economists and IEEP consultants – and shared a vision of the relationship between the CAP and the environment, and beyond that of the future of the CAP.
39In 1995, Unit 01 of the DG for Agriculture set up a working group which aimed to sketch the outline for the “integrated rural policy” that the Commissioner, Franz Fischler, was seeking to achieve.  The Unit approached Allan Buckwell for this task, an English economist and president of the European Association of Agricultural Economics (EAAE), who was known for his work on the CAP. Buckwell spent a year with the Unit, and was supported in his work by a number of experts, including Ewa Rabinowicz, a Swedish scholar and future president of the EAAE, and the German consultant Heino Von Meyer, an associate of the IEEP and a specialist in environmental economics. In this way the Unit officials were thus careful to involve experts from across Europe in an effort to legitimise the work that the group was to produce. 
40According to the “Buckwell Report”,  international trade agreements and the European expansion to the East meant that the CAP should be further reformed. Political choices were thus limited: the CAP should in the future be market-led; and only those payments which rewarded the provision of public goods, often related to the environment, were to be considered as legitimate. There was no longer any justification for continuing the system of direct subsidies, which had been paid as a transitional arrangement to compensate the reduction in guaranteed prices introduced in 1992.  The Buckwell Report further stipulated that agro-environmental payments should constitute the primary instruments of the future CAP. To reward the provision of environmental services these payments – unlike the agro-environmental measures introduced in 1992 – should be based on the environmental legislation in force.
41The payments are represented as a pyramid (see Figure 1): representing the “polluter-pays” principle, its base refers to environmental standards linked to European environmental policy which farmers are obliged to respect independently of the allocation of CAP payments. On this basis, payments reward environmental services provided by farmers as a function of the value of the public goods in question.
42Another report made a considerable impression. In 2000 the “Economic analysis, perspectives and evaluations” unit of the DG for Agriculture – which had replaced Unit 01 – commissioned a study from the IEEP, this time focusing on the possibilities for including the environment within the CAP in the short-term.  This commission drew on the vision of the relationship between the CAP and the environment put forward by the expert group directed by Allan Buckwell. Taking their work a step further, the authors of this second report, David Baldock and Janet Dwyer,  were tasked with defining the instruments which would translate the objective of providing environmental services into action. Thus, in their report, the IEEP consultants described a mechanism which would make the allocation of AEM payments in particular and CAP subsidies in general conditional upon respecting environmental legislation.  As we have seen, from the mid-1990s the IEEP had developed expertise around the idea of a policy instrument such as this, described by Baldock and Dwyer as making agricultural subsidies dependent on cross-compliance.
43At the beginning of the 2000s the vision of the relationship between the CAP and the environment in terms of public goods – a vision validated by the experts commissioned by the European Commission – was to serve as the basis for the development of legislation on agri-environmental measures. In 2005 this legislation stipulated that AEMs would henceforth reward “services”  provided to society by farmers and agricultural land managers. According to EC legislation, the exchange value of agri-environmental measures was to be based on cross-compliance, which had also come into force in member states in 2005, and which established a reference level which distinguished environmental costs from benefits. 
44Let us now turn to the symbolic effects which resulted from the inclusion of the “public goods” vision within Community law; a development which effectively created the right conditions for the transmission of this public action frame.
Frame transmission: policy implementation and symbolic imposition
45To properly account for this process we should note that, several years after the frame promoted by the RSPB and Birdlife International was incorporated in Community law, the struggles between the CAP protagonists centre exclusively on the notion of what constitutes a “public good”. These competing actors have thus, more or less deliberately, appropriated this frame, which now tends to mark the boundaries of the struggles over the position and function of agriculture and the CAP in Europe; their battles seek to define the nature of public goods, and thus the aims of the CAP in the future. There are two opposing camps, divided on the basis of the definition which the key players ascribe to the concept of public good.
46On the one side are the European environmentalists, led by the RSPB and Birdlife International, who have continuously defended a strict definition of public goods which draws on the analyses of neoclassical economists, according to which public intervention should focus on “pure” public goods, particularly in relation to the environment. Within the context of the 2013 CAP reform, the main European environmental associations – in particular the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) – presented a united front behind this interpretation of public goods in general, and this vision of the CAP in particular.  Newer actors, involved more recently in debates concerning the CAP, also rallied around the cause and proclaimed their political support for the RSPB and Birdlife International – actors from the organic sector (IFOAM-Europe),  and the European Landowners’ Organisation (ELO). 
47On the other side were those who favoured a wider definition of the concept of public goods. More recently, COPA-COGECA has adopted the concept of public goods in the context of “green growth”.  In their view, the objective of food security – understood as a public good – should be at the heart of the CAP. The global demand for food should be met by higher levels of profitability and productivity from European agriculture. To this end, the allocation of direct aid payments should be maintained. For them, protection of the environment should be another important objective of the CAP, but less so than food security, and should not be achieved at the latter’s expense. In other words, compensation for protecting the environment should not be achieved through the development of agri-environmental payments, and even less so through regulatory instruments (“environmental constraints”), but through maintaining direct aid payments. In adopting the notion of public goods, the leaders of COPA-COGECA were thereby able to legitimise the status quo. As far as the CPE were concerned, although they maintained their credo of protectionism – arguing for differentiated agricultural prices on the basis of social criteria – they too have tended to appropriate the “public goods” vision for themselves and have suggested that targeted payments should reward the most stringent environmental practices – such as organic farming – for the “services” they offer society. 
48Finally, it is noteworthy that the phenomenon of symbolic imposition which incorporating the public goods vision in law entailed should concern not only the CAP actors, but researchers too. Aurélie Cardona has demonstrated, with the aid of bibliometric research, that the concepts of environmental services and public goods have recently enjoyed significant popularity in European and French academic research.  Agricultural economists have clearly increased their output in this respect in an attempt to define “effective” instruments for delivering public goods.  Beyond this, the phenomenon of symbolic imposition has also affected ecologists and agronomists who have without discussion appropriated these concepts to construct their own research agenda.  It seems that this phenomenon of reappropriation, which has been made possible by the relatively unstructured concepts of environmental services and public goods, represents the precondition for these researchers to respond to European and national calls to tender.
49All in all, everything points to the fact that the incorporation of the public goods vision into Community law, combined with its soft logic, led to a phenomenon of symbolic imposition amongst the key CAP actors and many academics.
50* * *
51Using the relationship between the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the environment as its starting point, this article has analysed the process of defining a public problem over the long-term, beyond its emergence and inclusion on the political agenda. It aimed to trace how a broad and tacit consensus was constructed around a public issue and, to do so, focused on the main stages – emergence, establishment and transmission – which a frame undergoes in making sense of a problem. In this article I aimed to analyse sociologically the cognitive and symbolic struggles which the actors in question waged, identifying the diverse resources which they drew upon, and the advantages which these resources gave them. This approach meant focusing my analysis on the actors behind the consensus that the relationship between the CAP and the environment could be understood in terms of public goods. I have therefore reconstructed the actions of the actors who promoted the frame, fostering its emergence, its establishment, and its transmission. Three complementary elements have been identified in analysing how a broad and tacit consensus is constructed around a public problem. First, there is the strategic use of scientific and technical knowledge: drawing on “science” allows an actor to present a depoliticised vision of the world, one which is simply technical and apparently universal, and thus is likely to bring about the changes which it advertises. For example, drawing on neoclassical economics allowed the RSPB and Birdlife International to exploit global socio-economic trends for their own ends. By making reference to international trade agreements and European enlargement to the East, they were able to create a sense of the inevitability of the changes they were recommending (reforming the CAP on the basis of the concept of public goods), thereby excluding alternative solutions. Second, the construction of a broad and tacit consensus is connected to the soft logic of the vision of the world on which it is based, which allows for the inclusion of a range of interests. Thus, the view of the relationship between the CAP and the environment in terms of public goods was appropriated by a number of actors; in particular by those who, lacking their own expertise, did not have an alternative “schemata of interpretation” which would stand up to scrutiny. They therefore assimilated certain aspects of the public goods vision, more or less deliberately, such that they perpetuated their own interests. The symbolic effectiveness of the vision promoted by the RSPB and Birdlife International thus depends on its capacity to embrace divergent views. Third, and finally, the construction of a broad and tacit consensus is a result of the legal embodiment of the vision on which it is based. Given the symbolic power of the state, enshrining a worldview in law tends to legitimise it as a concept. As Marcel Mauss observed, although law is the basis of our sentiment of community, it nonetheless belongs mainly to our unconscious, only becoming conscious in situations of conflict.  That the view of the relationship between the CAP and the environment in terms of public goods should be incorporated into Community law resulted a few years later in a phenomenon of symbolic imposition. Actors who had previously opposed this vision of the issue now, more or less deliberately, absorbed a number of its elements; these actors included the major European farming organisations, and academics and scientists (particularly ecologists and agronomists). It seems clear that the soft logic of the public goods perspective fostered this transmission. 
52In conclusion, in posing the question of how public problems are defined over the long-term, this article has opened up new avenues of research into change and inertia within public action. It suggests that a policy’s durability essentially depends on the capacity of those who instigated it to maintain – if not extend – a consensus around it. Making meaning in this way involves constantly updating a vision of the world so as to preserve the basis and (perhaps most of all) the necessity of the problem which that vision seeks to control. In so doing, the instigators of a policy are likely to oppose the emergence of a “compulsion to change”. Over and above the results for a particular field of public policy, a sociological analysis of how a political consensus is constructed may well yield original insights into the reproduction of the political order. From this perspective, we should examine how the processes and institutions on which that political order is based (elections, parliament, democracy, etc.) are constructed as legitimate; without this process of legitimisation, such processes and institutions would cease to be sustainable. 
A problem is deemed to be public when social actors mobilise concerning a situation that they seek to change, and deemed to be political when it is taken up by elected political representatives and civil servants. See Pierre Favre, “L’émergence des problèmes sur le champ politique”, in P. Favre (ed.), Sida et politique, les premiers affrontements (Paris: L’Harmattan, 1990), 3-37.
David Baldock, Philip Lowe, “The development of European agri-environmental policy”, in Martin Charles Whitby (ed.), The European Environment and CAP Reform. Policies and Prospects for Conservation (Oxon: CAB International, 1996), 8-25.
Regulation (EC) 2078/1992 on agricultural production methods compatible with the requirements of the protection of the environment and maintenance of the countryside.
Pierre Lascoumes, Patrick Le Galès, Sociologie de l’action publique (Paris: Armand Colin, 2007); Patrick Hassenteufel, Sociologie politique: l’action publique (Paris: Armand Colin, 2011).
Jean-Gustave Padioleau, L’État au concret (Paris: PUF, 1982); Joseph R. Gusfield, “Constructing the ownership of social problems: fun and profit in the welfare state”, Social Problems, 36(5), 1989, 431-41.
Erving Goffman, Frame analysis: An essay on the organization of experience (London: Harper and Row, 1974).
Thus, according to Laurie Boussaguet, the emergence of the public problem of “paedophilia” in Europe was the result of work by feminist activists and psychology professionals to redefine the sexual abuse of minors: Laurie Boussaguet, “Les ‘faiseuses’ d’agenda. Les militantes féministes et l’émergence des abus sexuels sur mineurs en Europe”, Revue française de science politique, 59(2), 2009, 221-46.
This is an observation made by Claude Gilbert and Emmanuel Henry in “La définition des problèmes publics. Entre publicité et discrétion”, Revue française de sociologie, 53(1), 2012, 35-59.
In English see: Herbert Blumer, “Social problems as collective behavior”, Social Problems, 18, 1971, 258-306; Roger W. Cobb, Charles D. Elder, Participation in American Politics. The Dynamics of Agenda Building (Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 1972); Stephen Hilgartner, Charles L. Bosk, “The rise and the fall of social problems: a public arena model”, American Journal of Sociology, 94(1), 1988, 53-76. In French, see: Philippe Garraud, “Politiques nationales: l’élaboration de l’agenda”, L’Année sociologique, 40, 1990, 17-41; Daniel Cefaï, “La construction des problèmes publics. Définitions de situations dans les arènes publiques”, Réseaux, 75, 1996, 43-66.
For Gusfield, “[t]o ‘own’ a social problem is to possess the authority to name that condition a ‘problem’ and to suggest what might be done about it” (J. R. Gusfield, “Constructing the ownership of social problems…”, 433).
I draw on Goffman’s analyses in Frame analysis for the three stages outlined here.
Yves Surel, “The role of cognitive and normative frames in policy-making”, Journal of European Public Policy, 7(4), 2000, 495-512 (496). See also Yves Surel, “Idées, intérêts et institutions dans l’analyse des politiques publiques”, Pouvoirs, 87, 1998, 161-78.
In recent years various different authors have offered cognitive analyses of policies which focus on actors. In English, see: Paul A. Sabatier, Christopher M. Weible, “The advocacy coalition framework: innovations and clarifications”, in P. A. Sabatier (ed.), Theories of the Policy Process (Boulder: Westview Press, 2008), 21-64; Mark Blyth, Vivien Schmidt, “Some reflections on ideas, ontology and where we go next”, in Andrew Gofas, Colin Hay (eds), The Role of Ideas in Political Analysis. A Portrait of Contemporary Debates (Abingdon: Routledge, 2010), 165-6. In French, see: Antoine Roger, “Constructions savantes et légitimation des politiques européennes. La circulation des savoirs sur la vigne et le vin”, Revue française de science politique, 60(6), 2010, 1093-113; William Genieys, Patrick Hassenteufel, “Qui gouverne les politiques publiques? Par-delà la sociologie des élites”, Gouvernement et action publique, 2(2), 2011, 89-115. Despite their differences, these studies converge in focusing their analyses on competing actors (the positions they adopt, their tactics of persuasion, their resources) and the social structures in which they develop.
Bruno Jobert, Pierre Muller, L’État en action. Politiques publiques et corporatismes (Paris: PUF, 1987); Pierre Muller, “Esquisse d’une théorie du changement dans l’action publique. Structures, acteurs et cadres cognitifs”, Revue française de science politique, 55(1), 2005, 155-87.
Bruno Jobert, Bruno Théret, “France: la consécration républicaine du néolibéralisme”, in B. Jobert (ed.), Le tournant néolibéral en Europe (Paris: L’Harmattan, 1994), 21-86; Eve Fouilleux, “Entre production et institutionnalisation des idées: la réforme de la Politique agricole commune”, Revue française de science politique, 50(2), 2000, 277-305. See also Mark Blyth, “Powering, puzzling, or persuading? The mechanisms of building institutional orders”, International Studies Quarterly, 51, 2007, 761-77.Online
Matthieu Ansaloni, “Coalitions et changement de politiques. Environnementalistes et politiques agricoles en Angleterre et en France”, Revue internationale de politique comparée, 20(1), 2013, 47-72.
See B. Jobert, P. Muller, L’État en action. Thus these struggles involve both cognitive elements (scientific and technical expertise, for example) and normative elements (values, norms and symbols). See in particular Y. Surel, “Idées, intérêts et institutions…”.
Matthieu Ansaloni, “Configurations des débats politiques et diversité de l’action publique en Europe. La Politique agricole commune et l’environnement en France, en Hongrie et au Royaume-Uni”, PhD in political science, Montpellier, Université Montpellier 1, 2012.
For Andy Smith, the depoliticisation of public debate is one of the defining features of EU governance, characterised by a structural deficit of legitimacy: using the register of expertise allows depoliticised – and apparently universal – views to be promoted. Andy Smith, Le gouvernement de l’Union européenne: une sociologie politique (Paris: LGDJ, 2010). See also Nicolas Jabko, “Expertise et politique à l’âge de l’euro: la Banque centrale européenne sur le terrain de la démocratie”, Revue française de science politique, 51(6), 2001, 903-31; Sabine Saurugger, “L’expertise: un mode de participation des groupes d’intérêt au processus décisionnel communautaire”, Revue française de science politique, 52(4), 2002, 375-401; A. Roger, “Constructions savantes…”; Cécile Robert, “Les groupes d’experts dans le gouvernement de l’Union européenne. Bilans et perspectives de recherche”, Politique européenne, 32, 2010, 7-38.
For more on how the inevitability of change is constructed, see Pierre Muller, “Les politiques publiques comme construction d’un rapport au monde”, in Alain Faure, Gilles Pollet, Philippe Warin (eds), La construction du sens dans les politiques publiques. Débats autour de la notion de référentiel (Paris: L’Harmattan, 1995), 153-79; Kathleen McNamara, “Rational fictions: Central Bank independence and the social logic of delegation”, West European Politics, 25(1), 2002, 47-76.
Bruno Jobert, “Représentations sociales, controverses et débats dans la conduite des politiques publiques”, Revue française de science politique, 42(2), 1992, 219-34.Online
Monopolising expertise is a key resource in building consensus around a given issue. See J. R. Gusfield, “Constructing the ownership of social problems…”; B. Jobert, “Représentations sociales, controverses…”.
This is why, for Bourdieu, any established institution necessarily becomes unconscious of its own formation (‘genesis amnesia’). Pierre Bourdieu, Sur l’État. Cours au Collège de France. 1989-1992 (Paris: Seuil, 2012), 185. Numerous studies on the genesis of the state have demonstrated that when it introduces frameworks and categories, it models the psychic economy of actors, who tend to absorb such schema unconsciously. Norbert Elias, La dynamique de l’Occident (Paris: Calmann-Levy, 1969). Those authors who have pointed to the policy feedback effects on public debate have largely neglected the symbolic dimension of such effects. Paul Pierson, “When effect becomes cause. Policy feedback and political change”, World Politics, 45, 2000, 595-628; P. Lascoumes, P. Le Galès, Sociologie de l’action publique.
Graham Cox, Philip Lowe, Michael Winter, “Agriculture and conservation in Britain: a policy community under siege”, in G. Cox, P. Lowe, M. Winter (eds), Agriculture, People and Policies (London: Allen & Unwin, 1986), 181-215.
For more on how those in charge at the RSPB managed to position the Society as the mouthpiece of English environmentalists, and, more than that, as the dominant actor in English agricultural policy, see M. Ansaloni, “Coalitions et changement de politiques…”.
D. Baldock, P. Lowe, “The development of European agri-environment policy”; Alun Jones, Julian Clark, The Modalities of European Union Governance. New Institutionalist Explanations of Agri-Environmental Policy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).
Interview with the former head of the agricultural policy team at the RSPB, and former coordinator of the “Agriculture” group within Birdlife International, Edinburgh, 2008; interview with the current coordinator of the Birdlife International “Agriculture” group, Brussels, 2008.
Charlotte Halpern, “La politique européenne de l’environnement”, in Renaud Dehousse (ed.), Politiques européennes (Paris: Presses de Sciences Po, 2008), 205-26; Nathalie Berny, “Le lobbying des ONG internationales d’environnement à Bruxelles. Les ressources de réseau et d’information, conditions et facteurs de changement de l’action collective”, Revue française de science politique, 58(1), 2008, 197-222; Christopher Rootes (ed.), Environmental Protest in Western Europe (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).
Thus, Friends of the Earth established a base in Brussels in 1986, Greenpeace in 1988, and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in 1990.
Eve Fouilleux, La Politique agricole commune et ses réformes. Une politique à l’épreuve de la globalisation (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2003).
Interview with the former RSPB head of the agricultural policy team, and former coordinator of the “Agriculture” group within Birdlife International, Edinburgh, 2008.
C. Halpern, “La politique européenne de l’environnement”; C. Rootes, Environmental Protest in Western Europe.
Birdlife International, “A future for Europe’s rural environment: reforming the Common Agricultural Policy”, Brussels, 1997, 27. This report was authored by the RSPB agricultural policy team and draws on the first position paper on the CAP published by the society: RSPB, “The reform of the Common Agricultural Policy: new opportunities for wildlife and the environment”, Sandy, 1988.
This distinction is based on Michel Offerlé’s categorisation of the strategies interest groups use to construct and legitimise their action (claiming collective support, establishing a body of scientific knowledge, or creating moral outrage). Michel Offerlé, Sociologie des groupes d’intérêt (Paris: Monchrestien, 1998).
As is clear from the bibliographical references contained in their position papers.
E. Fouilleux, La Politique agricole commune et ses réformes. The work by the English economist Allan Buckwell and his colleagues is typical of this period: Allan Buckwell, David Harvey, Kenneth Thomson, Kevin Parton, The Costs of the Common Agricultural Policy (London: Croom Helm, 1982).
See, for example, Allan Buckwell, “Agricultural economists in a brave liberal world”, in the conference proceedings of the European Association of Agricultural Economists, “Redefining the role for European agriculture”, Edinburgh, 1996, 1-17; Louis-Pascal Mahé, François Ortalo-Magné, Politique agricole. Un modèle européen (Paris: Presses de Sciences Po, 2001), 24.
RSPB, “The future of the Common Agricultural Policy”, Sandy, 1995, 9.
Thus the former head of the agricultural policy team at the RSPB, and coordinator of the “Agriculture” group within Birdlife International during the 1990s, became head of the department for Agriculture and Agricultural Policy at the IEEP at the beginning of the 2000s.
Interview with the director of the IEEP, London, 2009.
Between 1990 and 2011, the IEEP’s web site contained 134 reports on agro-environmental policy instruments, and 88 reports on nature conservation which frequently make reference to agro-environmental policy instruments (<http://ieep.eu/>, accessed 21 June 2011). The IEEP’s pioneering experience led a few years later to its director taking part in the OECD working group “Agriculture and environment”, which published the first reports to address the inclusion of the environment in agricultural policy: “L’intégration des politiques de l’agriculture et de l’environnement. Progrès récents et nouvelles orientations” (Paris: OECD, 1993).
Environmental effects are considered as costs when they contravene the polluter pays principle (when farmers do not comply with environmental laws) and as benefits when they go further than this principle (when farmers adopt practices which are more stringent than environmental laws).
David Baldock, Karen Mitchell, Cross-Compliance Within the Common Agricultural Policy. A Review of Options for Landscape and Nature Conservation (London: IEEP, 1995).
Birdlife International, “Implementation of EU Agri-Environment Regulation 2078”, Brussels, 1994; and “A future for Europe’s rural environment…”.
John Sheail, “Nature protection, ecologists and the farming context: A UK perspective”, Journal of Rural Studies, 11, 1995, 79-88.Online
The following book, edited by two RSPB researchers and published in 1997, provides an overview of RSPB research in this area: Debbie Pain, Mike W. Pienkowski (eds), Farming and Birds in Europe. The Common Agricultural Policy and its Implications for Bird Conservation (London: Academic Press, 1997).
John R. Krebs, Jeremy Wilson, Richard Bradbury, Gavin Siriwardena, “The second silent spring?”, Nature, 400, 1999, 611-12.Online
Birdlife International, “A future for Europe’s rural environment…”, 10.
Birdlife International, “A future for Europe’s rural environment…”; D. Pain, M. W. Pienkowski (eds), Farming and Birds in Europe.
E. Fouilleux, La Politique agricole commune et ses réformes.
C. F. Heereman, “La coopération des agriculteurs français et allemands a fait avancer l’Europe”, Agra-Débats, 1, 1995, 65-8.
Interview with one of the COPA-COGECA Environment Officers, Brussels, 2008.
Confédération paysanne, Changeons de politique agricole (Paris: Mille et une nuits, 2002).
Interview with the coordinator of the CPE, Brussels, 2008.
The IFOAM did not, for example, have offices in Brussels until 2003.
Peter Gibbon, “An analysis of standards-based regulation in the EU organic sector. 1991-2007”, Journal of Agrarian Change, 8(4), 2008, 553-82.Online
E. Fouilleux, La Politique agricole commune et ses réformes; Christilla Roederer-Rynning, “The Common Agricultural Policy”, in Helen Wallace, Mark A. Pollack, Alasdair R. Young (eds), Policy-Making in the European Union (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 181-205.
Interview with the head of unit “Arable crops, sugar, animal feed”, and former head of unit 1 “Analyse et conception d’ensemble” [“Analysis and overall design], Directorate-General for Agriculture, Brussels, 2008.
Interview with the head of unit “Arable crops, sugar, animal feed”, and former head of unit 1 “Analyse et conception d’ensemble” [“Analysis and overall design], Directorate-General for Agriculture, Brussels, 2008.
Interview with the former head of the agricultural policy team at the RSPB, and former coordinator of the “Agriculture” group within Birdlife International, Edinburgh, 2008.
Franz Fischler, press release, Brussels, 1995.
C. Roederer-Rynning, “The Common Agricultural Policy”.
Press release, Brussels, 16 January 2003.
Interview with the head of unit “Arable crops, sugar, animal feed”, Brussels, 2008.
Interview with Allan Buckwell, emeritus professor of agricultural economics, London, 2009.
Allan Buckwell, Jan Blom, Patrick Commins, Bertrand Hervieu, Markus Hofreither, Heino von Meyer, Ewa Rabinowicz, Franco Sotte, José María Sumpsi Viñas, “Towards a Common Agricultural and Rural Policy for Europe”, European Economy. Reports and Studies, 5, 1997.
“The compensation payments are vulnerable on five counts: their sheer visibility, justifying perennial payments for a once-off policy change, there is no relation between injury and compensation, they are not fully decoupled, and they continue to reward most those with the largest farms with most wealth.” (A. Buckwell et al., “Towards a Common Agricultural and Rural Policy for Europe”, 8).
Interview with the head of the “Environment, GMO and genetic resources” unit, previously a member of the “Economic analyses, perspectives and evaluations” unit of the DG for Agriculture, European Commission, Brussels, 2008.
Baldock was director of the IEEP, and Dwyer was head of its agriculture team.
David Baldock, Janet Dwyer, “Environmental Integration and the CAP. A Report for the European Commission”, London, 2002.
EC Regulation 1698/2005 on support for rural development (recital 35). The notion of services was absent from EC Regulation 2078/1992 on agri-environmental measures.
Although the position occupied by agri-environmental measures – and thus the objective to deliver public goods – was developed within the CAP, it still fell short of the proposals put forward by the experts whom the EC had commissioned. In 2005, AEM represented 30% of the European budget for rural development, and as much as 25% of the total budget of the CAP (European Commission, “Agri-environment Measures. Overview on General Principles, Types of Measures and Application”, Brussels, 2005). Although analysis of why agro-environmental measures still occupy a relatively marginal position within the CAP is outside the scope of this article, it can however be argued that the EC’s desire to reform comes up against opposition from a majority of member states who communicate the views of the main farmers’ unions to Brussels. E. Fouilleux, La Politique agricole commune et ses réformes…; C. Roederer-Rynning, “The Common Agricultural Policy”; M. Ansaloni, “Configurations des débats politiques et diversité de l’action publique en Europe…”.
Birdlife International/European Environmental Bureau/IFOAM EU Group/WWF, “Proposals for a new CAP”, Brussels, 2010.
Birdlife International/European Environmental Bureau/IFOAM EU Group/WWF, “Proposals for a new CAP”.
Birdlife International/European Landowners’ Organisation, “Proposals for the Future CAP: A Joint Position from the European Landowners’ Organisation and Birdlife International”, Brussels, 2010. I have analysed else-where how the RSPB set up a similar coalition in England based on an identical project for the CAP, which brought together English environmentalists, landowners (Country Landowners’ Association – CLA) and actors from the organic sector (Soil Association): M. Ansaloni, “Coalitions et changement de politiques…”. Arguably, the creation of a similar coalition at European level several years later was made easier by the fact that the same actors were in charge at both the English and European organisations: RSPB executives dominated at Birdlife International; Allan Buckwell – who had been appointed policy director of the CLA at the beginning of the 2000s – led the ELO’s work on the CAP; and the strategic director of the Soil Association was at the time also head of IFOAM’s EU Group.
COPA-COGECA, “Le COPA-COGECA réagit aux propositions de la Commission européenne sur la future PAC et demande que l’accent soit mis sur la promotion de la croissance verte et non sur les contraintes environnementales”, press release, Brussels, 2011.
Gérard Choplin, Alexandra Strickner, Aurélie Trouvé (eds), Souveraineté alimentaire. Que fait l’Europe? Pour une nouvelle politique agricole et alimentaire européenne (Paris: Syllepse, 2009).
Aurélie Cardona, “L’introduction de la notion de service ‘écosystémique’: pour un nouveau regard sur le sol?”, INRA/SFER/CIRAD conference “6èmes journées de recherche en sciences sociales”, Toulouse, 13-14 December 2012.
See, for example, Jean-Christophe Bureau, Louis-Pascal Mahé, “CAP Reform beyond 2013: an idea for a longer view”, Notre Europe, 2008; Mark Brady, Sören Höjgard, Eva Kaspersson, Ewa Rabinowicz, “The CAP and future challenges”, European Policy Analysis, 11, 2009, 1-13.
A. Cardona, “L’introduction de la notion de service ‘écosystémique’…”.
Thus, according to Mauss, the law “can be characterised by its intimacy”: despite its very public nature, only legal specialists know the secrets of the law. Marcel Mauss (ed.), Manual of Ethnography, trans. Dominique Lussier (Oxford: Berghahn Books/The Durkheim Press, 2007), 107-8.
It would be of particular interest to expand this analysis by examining how European Commission officials mobilised the concept of public goods to promote their plans for reform of the CAP and persuade representatives of the member states (civil servants and elected representatives), who held a wide range of views on agriculture and the CAP.
This article has benefitted from feedback from Olivier Baisnée, Selma Bendjaballah, Eve Fouilleux, Antoine Roger and Andy Smith, for which I am very grateful. I should also like to thank the journal’s reviewers whose valuable comments helped me enormously.