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The study of policy implementation mechanisms or policy delivery systems, as separate from policy formulation, is a generally neglected area in economics, and specifically agricultural economics. Nevertheless, the policy delivery system can be of critical importance for the effectiveness of policies in reaching their objectives, whether explicitly stated or not. Frequently deficiencies or problems in the mechanisms for delivery of a policy can seriously reduce its impact, if not bring about an altogether different outcome from the intended one. In any case the modalities and mechanisms for delivery of a policy are likely to have a significant impact on the effects of the policy. There is no doubt that the area of policy delivery is one with significant potential for analytical developments and which can possibly have very significant implications for the fields of policy design and policy advice.

The present study constitutes an attempt at applying a conceptual framework for analysis of policy delivery systems to a specific case: the common dairy policy of the European Union. This latter is an area of considerable interest in its own right, both because of the analytical interest presented by the complex mechanisms for regulating the internal EU market for dairy products and because of the impact of the policy both on the EU and international markets. It is however, also of major interest in the context of a discussion of policy delivery systems because it represents a case (along with the other agricultural market policies of the EU) where a common policy across the entire EU is to a large extent implemented at the national level by national institutions. You thus have a case of one policy implemented through different policy delivery systems, making it eminently suited for an analysis of the importance of the policy delivery system as such. The study analyses the common dairy policy of the EU, it outlines its objectives as well as the basic principles of the support system, and discusses the framework for its implementation as well as the practical implementation. The general discussion is accompanied by three case studies on the implementation of the policy in three different EU member countries, allowing to assess how the impact of the policy can differ according to the nature of the policy delivery system. The performance of the policy delivery systems in meeting the objectives of the policy is assessed. The study is further enriched by some concluding considerations on the future of EU milk policies in the light of the constraints imposed by the likely EU enlargement as well as current and possible future WTO agreements.

To sum up, I believe that the present study presents a dual interest. Its careful discussion of EU milk policies is of interest in its own right, but the originality of the study derives from its focus on the importance of the policy delivery system and the comparative analysis it provides in this regard. I believe that the type of analysis conducted and the conclusions reached provide material for reflection on the importance of the hitherto far too neglected area of policy delivery.

J. Vercueil
Agriculture and Economic
Development Analysis Division

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