The external dimension of the Common Agricultural Policy: shaping rural spaces?
Rural areas are facing multitudinous challenges. Poverty is a common problem, infrastructure as well as the provision of services remains patchy, and economic opportunities are rare. Consequently, rural areas suffer from the urbanization especially of their young, educated inhabitants leaving many villages largely de-populated. At the same time, narratives of rural areas and people as guardians of (vaguely defined) ‘sustainable development’ grow stronger, including calls for small-scale agriculture and artisanal food production but also the revitalization of villages.
The European Union specifically within parts of its Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has been increasingly focusing on rural development to address these challenges. Even more interestingly, the EU has started to externalize its instruments and models to non-member states, especially in its neighbourhood.
Hence, this ‘export’ of EU policies to non-member states moves the CAP’s rural development aspects into the academic realm of EU external governance, chiefly developed by Lavenex and Schimmelfennig (2009). Consequently, the thesis investigates two cases of CAP external governance within the Eastern Partnership country Georgia: the LEADER model of endogenous rural development and the EU approach towards geographical indications, meaning place-based protection for food and drink products. Interestingly, while governed differently, both instruments are presented as solutions to the aforementioned challenges rural areas face.
Hence, the thesis makes three contributions to the external governance literature. First, it introduces the academically neglected but for many neighbourhood countries vital agricultural and rural development sector. Second, it questions Lavenex and Schimmelfennig’s assumption of a unified sectoral mode of external governance by investigating two differently externalized instruments. Finally and most importantly, it contributes the in-depth and micro-level investigation of external governance consequences. Therefore, it moves beyond the current understanding of external governance effectiveness as mere application of EU rules in non-member states by casting the net widely for potential implications of LEADER and geographical indications for rural spaces.
Keywords: European Union, external governance, rural space, Georgia, European neighbourhood
Selection of ‘policy instruments’
Within the case of EU agricultural policy export towards Georgia, I conduct a comparative analysis of GI and LEADER. The two instruments target similar goals and address similar actors, geared at the ‘revitalisation’ of rural spaces. However, they differ in their modes of governance: while in the literature geographical indications have been described as being externalized either through legally binding trade agreements (hierarchy mode) or through voluntary adaptation by producers (market mode), LEADER is externalized through rural communities’ socialization and learning from EU best practices (network mode). Given that the first part of the thesis asks how far differing modes of governance impact on the effectiveness of policy transfer, the choice of these two instruments allow case selection “[…] according to the categories of the key causal explanatory variable” (King et al. 1994: 137). In addition, given that the thesis analyses the export of these two instruments two one country within the same period of times, this allows for controlling to a wide extent for confounders such as political system, history and geopolitical context, based on a Most Similar Systems Design (Przeworski & Teune 1970; Gerring & Cojocaru 2016: 393).
Selection of country case
The comparative analysis of GI and LEADER presupposes that the EU seeks to externalize both instruments to the country in question. In the case of LEADER, Georgia is thus far the only European Neighbourhood country to which the model has been externalized as part of the European Neighbourhood Programme for Rural Development (ENPARD) and where own geographical indications are registered in an EU-style sui generis system. Additionally, Georgia is well suited for this research because it has a close association with the EU and it is a predominantly rural country, which allows to discern the effect of EU influence from other factors of socio-economic transformation whilst minimizing the potential for irrelevant cases lacking the potential to elucidate the research question (Goertz & Mahoney 2012:183).
The societal relevance of this project derives from its foci on the Common Agricultural Policy, rural spaces and external governance.
The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is not only one of the oldest and budget-intensive EU policies, it is also one of the most criticised. So far, this criticism has often focused on the effects on non-member states’ economies due to protectionism and market interventions especially of earlier CAP regimes. Yet, instruments focused on rural development and thus rural spaces have been largely neglected in research. Nonetheless, lately both policy makers’ attention and resources have shifted towards this dimension, warranting a closer analysis.
As outlined above, rural areas are facing a variety of challenges ranging from underdevelopment to their indistinguishability as sites of industrial agriculture both resulting in rural depopulation. Hence, the consequences of policy instruments addressing these challenges should be analysed carefully if the vital functions of rural areas and their inhabitants are to be protected.
Finally, developing approaches towards EU external governance are vital for the evaluation of neighbourhood instruments. If academia and policy practice continue to understand the success of externalization as the mere application of EU rules in non-member states, they risk overlooking dysfunctionalities of the instruments in question. Consequently, if instruments do not benefit their adressees, in this case people in rural spaces, this in the best case implies a waste of resources while in the worst case it could fuel anti-European sentiments.
Oct 2016 – Aug 2017: University of Warwick, United Kingdom
Sep 2017 – Aug 2018: Université de Genève, Switzerland
Sep 2018 – Feb 2019: The Transatlantic Foundation, The German Marshall Fund of the United States
Mar 2019 – Oct 2019: University of Warwick, United Kingdom
Master of Arts in International Security
Double Degree, University of Warwick and University of Konstanz
Master of Arts in Political Science and Public Administration majoring in International Administration and Conflict Management
Double Degree, University of Konstanz and University of Warwick
Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Public Administration
University of Konstanz
- European Union external relations
- European Neighbourhood Policy
- Rural space
- Rural development
- Place-based products, especially wine
- Qualitative methods
Richardson, B. & Gelhaus, L. (2015): Shame on You: Fat Discrimination and the Food Industry, in: Lacuna.
Schiffers, S., Hegedüs, D., Minesashvili, S., Bakakuri, T., Tchipashvili, L. Gelhaus, L., Le Grix, V., Seebass, F. (2018): Normative Power vs. Democratic Backsliding: European Values in the EU and Georgia. Policy paper published by Polis 180, Argo, Georgian Institute of Politics.
Co-founder of the Critical perspectives on European Neighbourhoods (CENs) working group and research network.
Member of the RESTEP Jean Monnet Network. Tought seminar on “The Politicization of Food”.