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CEPS Project

Review of the transitional restrictions maintained by new Member States

with regard to the acquisition of agricultural real estate

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During the accession negotiations, candidate countries requested the possibility to maintain existing national provisions restricting the acquisition of agricultural land or forests. They considered these derogations necessary in order to preserve the socio-economic agricultural structure of the countries from shocks that might arise from the differences in land prices and income with the rest of the union, and to be able to pursue an effective agricultural policy. They were also deemed necessary due to an unfinished process of privatisation and restitution of agricultural land to the farmers in some countries. Some candidate countries provided detailed arguments justifying the transitional periods in the framework of the Common Positions expressed by the Council during the negotiations. The Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia were granted transitional periods during which they could maintain existing provisions of their legislation restricting the acquisition of agricultural land or forest, in derogation to the freedom of capital movement enshrined in Art. 56 of the EC Treaty. The Commission is required by the Act of Accession to review these transitional measures in the third year following the date of accession and to submit a report to the Council, which may decide, acting unanimously, to shorten or terminate these transitional periods. CEPS is collaborating with 7 Institutes from the New Member States to produce a study that will serve as an input for this Commission report to the Council.

The specific objectives of the study are to:

  • analyse accurately the agricultural sector in the 7 new Member States and its evolution since the period of negotiation and accession,
  • compare these findings with the situation in the Union, and in particular with the situation in the “old” Member States,
  • take stock of the transitional restrictions effectively maintained by the 7 new Member States,
  • review conditions that led to an agreement on transitional measures at the time of accession
  • analyse their effect on the sector and draw conclusions on their relevance and usefulness, and the necessity or not to maintain them.

Johan F.M. Swinnen

Associate Senior Research Fellow