The European Union varies widely within its boundaries. Still, there are common policies for agriculture, food and rural areas, although with many differences in relation to specific conditions in Member States. Starting with the Mac Sharry reform in 1992, the EU is on a long-term path to freer and more open markets. Traditional EU market and price measures are now largely replaced by 'decoupled' direct income support, and further steps are being prepared. There is increased attention at both EU and Member-State levels to food quality, food safety and animal welfare, as there is also to the environment and the development of rural areas. The Union is thus becoming a leader in food and rural policies. Many experts have contributed their up-to-date knowledge to this book. It is suitable for scientific and professional education at bachelor level, and as a supporting text in master level courses. Business executives, officials and non-governmental organisations will also find this book to be of interest.