In its public discourse, the European Commission presented the EU’s most recent Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) as a paradigm change. Many observers of the CAP reform process, however, describe the recent agreement as a lost opportunity for change. This article describes and analyses the Commission’s discursive strategies in response to the legitimacy challenges regarding the CAP’s direct payments. We draw on the work of Mark Suchman (1995) to analyse these responses. The analysis reveals a progression of legitimation strategies that can be linked to the broader institutional environment, the setting of the ongoing policy process and the (critical) reaction of civil society organisations to these strategies. Besides shedding light on the progression of legitimation strategies, this article contributes to the literature on the Commission’s legitimation strategies more generally by linking the Commission’s public discourse to its public consultation regime.
Legitimation strategies, European Commission, Common Agricultural Policy, consultation
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