21 Jan 2009

Land & EU Accession: Review of the Transitional Restrictions by New Member States on the Acquisition of Agricultural Real Estate

Johan F.M. Swinnen / Liesbet Vranken

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In the course of the 2004 accession negotiations, candidate countries requested the possibility to maintain existing national provisions restricting the acquisition of agricultural land or forests by foreigners. They considered these derogations necessary in order to protect the socio-economic agricultural structure of the countries from shocks that might arise from the differences in land prices and incomes with the rest of the Union, and to be able to pursue an effective agricultural policy. The objective of this study is to review these transitional measures and their effects. To that end, the study analyses the agricultural sector in the NMS-7 and its evolution since the period of negotiation and accession. It compares these findings with the situation in the EU, especially among the ‘old’ member states. The study takes stock of the transitional restrictions effectively maintained by the NMS-7 and reviews the conditions that led to an agreement on transitional measures at the time of accession. It analyses the impacts of the restrictions on the sector and draws conclusions about their relevance and usefulness, and the necessity of maintaining them throughout the transitional periods.

Johan F.M. Swinnen is a Senior Research Fellow at CEPS and Professor of Economics and Director of the LICOS Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance at the University of Leuven. Liesbet Vranken is an Assistant Professor at the Centre for Corporate Sustainability at HU Brussels.