The agricultural sector in Spain and Poland during the pre-accession period

Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2005

16 Pages, Grade: 1,7


Table of contents


1. The agricultural sector of Spain and Poland
1.1. Difficult starting points in Spain and Poland
1.1.1 Spain
1.1.2 Poland
1.1.3 Figures, rates and quotas of Spain and Poland

2. Differences and similarities between the Spanish and the Polish accession

3. Comparison between the former Spanish and the common Polish expectations of the EC/EU accession.

4. Conclusion

5. Bibliography


This paper deals with Poland’s membership in the European Union and its effects on the Polish agriculture. The integration of Poland’s agricultural economy into the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will become one of the key issues and has been one of the most difficult issues during the negotiations on the conditions of Poland’s membership in the EU.[1]

The aim of this paper is to point out the advantages and disadvantages, the costs and benefits as well as the opportunities and threats to Poland’s agricultural sector by comparing it with the situation of Spain in the middle of the 1980’s when Spain became a new member of the European Community. A comparison between these two states makes sense because both had quite similar starting points when they were joining the EC/EU.

Therefore, the first chapter will give a historical overview of the agricultural sector in both states first of all. After that, production and export rates, proportions to each GDP and international scales as well as prospective and present changes after EC/EU-membership will be shortly presented and set into comparison.

The second chapter compares the Spanish membership negotiations for its agricultural sector to the positions of Poland. Both states gained special exceptions, privileges and transitional periods for their agriculture which are not only useful for the farmers but for financial policy, too. These points will be described and compared.

The third chapter presents the Polish agriculture’s future expectations. On the one hand threats and benefits will be listed up and proved to their validity. On the other hand, the Spanish expectations and fears of EC-membership in 1986 will be presented to prove the circumference of positive and negative expectations that came into existence.

The fourth chapter gives a summary how far Poland and Spain are comparable in terms of their agricultural sector. Second, the experiences of Spain are used as a template to give answers for the future questions of the Polish agriculture.

1. The agricultural sector of Spain and Poland

1.1. Difficult starting points in Spain and Poland

1.1.1. Spain

When Spain joined the EC in 1986, the country got over several years of political, social and economical changes after the regime of Franco. Until its end in 1975, the regime’s aim was the autarky of the Spanish grain production. The effect was on the one hand the cultivation of huge amounts of grain on unsuited soil, on the other hand the neglect of products like citrus fruits which were the greatest bringer of foreign exchange. Another bad estate of the Franco-regime was the non-solved problem of the land distribution. Huge lands were still in the hands of a few landowners in southern and western Spain, whereas small scale enterprises of less than 1 ha, often not enough to secure the existence of the family, were predominant in the north and central Spain.[2] During the 1960’s, the regime in Madrid realised that the customs policy of the EEC became a threat to its important foreign exchange bringers, agricultural products. A solution would have been an association agreement between Spain and the EEC member states as it already existed between the EEC and Greece, Turkey and Israel. But the accession of a fascist regime like Spain, even as an associated member, would have been a contradiction to the principles of the EEC. Democracy, rule of law and free trade were the conditions to join the association agreement, obtaining a full member status in the near future. On the other hand, the EEC saw its obligation to support the process of democratisation and the opening of shut down societies.[3] So, after difficult negotiations, the status of a “preferred trade agreement” was found for Spain, which was acceptable for both sides in 1970.[4] Finally, after Franco’s death in 1975 and the end of the fascist regime, Spain was able to apply the petition to join the EEC as a full member in 1977. But it lasted nearly ten years until Spain became a full member of the EC in 1986.[5]

1.1.2 Poland

Similar to Spain, Poland has to deal with problems deriving from its history until it was able to walk on the way to the EU. In contrast to other communist states, e.g. the German Democratic Republic, Poland’s agriculture had not been collectivised. Nearly 75% of the land was organised privately by small farms. Thoroughly, this had been an advantage during the period of socialist rule, supply gaps and scarce economy. Farmers were able to provide agricultural products for their families and for the local markets, which was advantageous not only for social life but also for the supply situation.

Today, the small scale farms have turned into a problem. Their area is too small, the capital and productivity too low.

In contrast to the EU, where only 1,7% of the GDP are produced by the agricultural sector and 5% of the people who work in the agriculture, the polish agriculture produces ca. 5% of the GDP and ca. 27% of the employees work in this sector. So, the old and mostly privately organised farms as well as the outdated processing industry have already become a problem concerning the structural, hygienic and veterinary regulations of the EU.[6]

But in contrast to Spain, where the Franco-regime did not make a completely association possible, the positive political changes in Poland and all over Eastern Europe paved the way towards an association agreement. To support the way to democracy and free trade, the EG began negotiations about an association with Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary very early, in autumn 1989. Between these states and the EG, the so-called Europe-Agreement was signed in 1991. The part of trade policy became effective in 1992, the part of economic and political cooperation in 1994. The Europe-Agreement paved the way towards a full membership in the EU.[7]

1.1.3 Figures, rates and quotas of Spain and Poland

To describe the polish agricultural sector, it is important to distinguish between polish and EU-statistics. Following Polish statistics, 25% of the Polish labour force work as farmers, producing 3,7 % of the GDP. The average size of a farm is 7,9 ha. and two thirds of the farms are self-supplier. But these statistics do not reflect the truth of polish agriculture. In Poland, everyone with more than one ha. soil counts as a farmer. That is why a number of nearly two million farms arise in Poland, although most of them are self-suppliers. Apart from that, many Poles wanted to be registered as farmers to gain the beneficial social welfare.

Following EU-statistics, counting only farmers who live from their products in total, 12,4% of the polish employees work as farmers. That is twice as much as the EU-average.[8]

At the beginning of the 1980’s, when Spain began its accession negotiations with the EC, the country had a quite similar labour force in its agricultural sector than Poland. 12,8 % of Spain’s labour force produced 8,8% of the country’s GDP.[9] As already mentioned, the percentage of agricultural employees in Spain and Poland were quite similar, whereas the GDP was much higher in Spain. That may arise from the fact that Spanish agricultural products like citrus-fruits, olives or southern fruits reached higher prices on the world market than polish agricultural products, e.g. dairy and grain. 20 years after Spain’s EC-accession, the GDP-quota of agricultural products has fallen from 8,8% to just 3% in 2004.[10] The number of labour force also declined from 12,8% in 1981 to 6,4% in 2004.[11]

This decline of the agricultural labour force had two mayor factors. One the one hand, more and more machines like tractors and harvesters were used, so that the employment of workers became inefficient. On the other hand, small scaled agricultural farms, mostly producing for self-supply, shut down and younger people began to work in other sectors like the industry or the service sector.


[1] See: Rowiñski, Janusz. The Adjustment Process of the Polish Agrofood Industry and Trade in Agricultural and Food Products. In: Lippert, Barbara; Becker, Peter (eds.). Towards EU-Membership. Transformation and Integration in Poland and the Czech Republic. Bonn 1998. P. 247.

[2] See: Hommel, Klaus. Spanien und die Europäische Wirtschaftsgemeinschaft. Geschichte einer Integration. Baden-Baden 1992. P. 185 ff.

[3] See: Hommel. P. 212 ff.

[4] See: a.a.O., P. 365.

[5] See: a.a.O., P. 350.

[6] See: Quaisser, Wolfgang. Wirtschaftssystem und Wirtschaftspolitik. In: Informationen zur politischen Bildung 273. Polen. 4. Quartal 2001. München 2001. S. 30.

[7] See: Byrt, Andrzej. Der Weg in die europäische Union. In: Informationen zur politischen Bildung 273. Polen. 4. Quartal 2001. München 2001. S. 54.

[8] See: Jäger-Dabek, Brigitte. Polen. Eine Nachbarschaftskunde. Bonn 2003. S. 155ff.

[9] See: Eurostat 1981 in: Dürr, Ernst; Kellenbertz, Hermann; Ritter, Wigand. Spanien auf dem Weg nach Europa? Bernd, Stuttgart 1985. S. 97.

[10] See:,1518,ESP,00.html Stand 25.08.2005.

[11] See: Stand 25.08.2005.

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The agricultural sector in Spain and Poland during the pre-accession period
University of Münster  (Institut für Politikwissenschaft)
Poland in the European Union - A Newcomer's Perspective
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ISBN (Book)
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Spain, Poland, European, Union, Newcomer’s, Perspective
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Bernd Reismann (Author), 2005, The agricultural sector in Spain and Poland during the pre-accession period, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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