National agricultural support schemes are governed by the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA), which entered into force in 1995 and was negotiated during the Uruguay Round (1986-1994). The long-term objective of the AoA is to establish a fair and market-oriented agricultural trading system and to initiate a reform process by negotiating commitments on assistance and protection and establishing stronger and more operationally effective rules and disciplines. Agriculture is therefore special because the sector has a separate agreement whose provisions are given priority. Before the Uruguay Round negotiations, it became increasingly clear that the causes of disorder in world agriculture went beyond the problems of access to imports, traditionally at the centre of the GATT negotiations. To get to the bottom of the issues, disciplinary measures were deemed essential for all measures relating to agricultural trade, including domestic agricultural policy and agricultural export subsidies. It was also considered necessary to have clearer rules for sanitary and phytosanitary measures, both in themselves and in order to avoid stricter rules on access to imports being circumvented by unjustified and protectionist application of food safety, as well as sanitary and phytosanitary measures. The 2003 CAP reform, which decoupled most of the existing direct aid, and the subsequent sectoral reforms resulted in the postponement of most of the aid under the yellow and blue boxes in the green box (€61.6 billion for the period 2016-2017, see table below). Aid granted under the “Amber Box” (AMS or Aggregate Measurement of Support) decreased sharply, from EUR 81 billion at the beginning of the contractual period to EUR 6.9 billion over the period 2016-2017, even with successive waves of enlargement. The European Union is thus largely respecting the commitments made in Marrakesh (€72.38 billion per year) for the AMS. In addition, the “Blue Box” reached €4.6 billion during the same registration period.

These agreements include a degree of flexibility in implementation by both developing countries, WTO members (special and differential treatment) and least developed countries (LDCs) and net food-importing developing countries (special provisions). . . .