Agriculture, the EC and the WTO: a legal critical analysis of the concepts of sustainability and multifunctionality

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The agricultural policies of the member states of the EC has for many years now been controlled from Brussels under the Common Agricultural Policy. In recent years the CAP has, together with other policies of the EC, been refocused from crop production support to a European Rural policy, with the term "sustainability" being written into many policy documents. This term has achieved international recognition, and the definition used by the Brundt Land commission has been widely accepted, as evidenced by its use in OECD documentation. While the term "sustainability" has been written into WTO texts, the robustness of the term is questionable. The question then arises as to the legal interaction of WTO texts and Multi-lateral Environmental Agreements, which do have "sustainability" as their core philosophy. A new term has entered the regional and global debate in the policy area of agriculture, that of "multifunctionality". The EC is increasingly defining agriculture as being multifunctional. This term has yet to be clearly defined at and EC level, however the OECD has done some work in this area. How the Millenium round of WTO negotiations reacts to the term "multifunctionality" will have an important impact on the EC's Common Agricultural Policy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)144-155
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Law Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2002


  • Agriculture
  • Environment


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