Topic: The future of the Common Agricultural Policy: discourse analysis on a paradigm shift towards a sustainable European food system
Keywords: Common Agricultural Policy; Sustainability; Paradigm shift; Food system; Common Food Policy
This paper performed a discourse analysis on the future of the Common Agricultural Policy, analysing two documents, one from the European Commission, one from the International Panel of Experts for Sustainable Food systems. Indeed, a reform of the CAP is now being negotiated by the EU Commission while IPES is advocating for a shift towards a Common Food Policy for Europe. Both stakeholders share the idea of a transition to sustainability, with, however, very different backgrounds and goals.
The inductive thematic analysis highlighted nine themes, recurrent in both texts with different languages and narratives: environment, social issues, health, food security, technology and innovation, policy effectiveness, integration, economy and governance.
Throughout the analysis of keywords and macropropositions, framings of key concepts have been identified, helping outline EC and IPES discourses on the future of food and farming in Europe. The discourses that appeared from the analysis where fundamentally different in focus and goal of the policy, change required, solutions presented, actions needed and framings of the concept of sustainability – in particular of the link between sustainable production and consumption. EC discourse appeared to rotate around agriculture and rural development, with the aim to improve the efficiency of the system; while IPES one, to focus on a more systemic vision aiming at improving the integration of the entire food system.
This analysis highlighted the differences between the two stakeholders’ discourse but also some similarities. Indeed, the analysis helped confirm that, although the differences between the two discourse are still very strong, there are some features of IPES discourse which are starting to become part of EC one. Moreover, the comparison with the existing literature on the topic helped reconduct those discourses to broader paradigms. Indeed, the analysis showed that EC discourse is layered and follow multiple contrasting paradigms, depending on the theme. This last part of the analysis has been helpful to determine whether or not EC discourse represents a paradigm shift from the unsustainable “business as usual”.