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The aim of the panel is to explore to what extend it is possible to maintain rural self-sufficient livelihood practices in the context of the regulations of Common Agricultural Policy in Europe and the global market. We would like to discuss what value the EU grants to smallholders.
Europe is immersed in the market economy. Nevertheless, ethnographic testimonies reveal the importance of self-sufficiency, self-provisioning and domestic economy for livelihoods of people, especially in rural areas. Self-sufficiency may play a role of buffer in times of crisis and is significant in terms of identity and social cohesion. Nevertheless, public policies are designed to promote large agricultural companies by means of subsidies or complex legal requirements which make it hard to survive for the small farmers. Rural development programmes benefit mostly medium and big agricultural enterprises. Bureaucracy labyrinths, the prohibition of traditional practices such as home slaughter of livestock or of the surplus sale through informal channels are some examples of the regulations that hamper self-sufficient livelihoods. The EU rural development programmes and the imposition of the regulations of Common Agricultural Policy shape European agriculture creating a great distance between agricultural companies, competing in a market economy, and agricultural practices of people embedded in local livelihood strategies. The aim of the panel is to explore the influence EU policies have on self-sufficient rural livelihoods in Europe and the strategies people adopt in order to function in the adverse legal environment. We would like to discuss if, given the legal context, it is possible to maintain livelihood practices out of market economy and to what extend? What value does the EU grant to small farming, and if and how it protects household agriculture? What plan does the EU have for the future of smallholders? Theoretical and ethnographic contributions are welcome.