The common organisation of the markets has been a key component of the common agricultural policy since its inception. Its main objectives are to stabilise markets, ensure a fair standard of living for farmers, and increase agricultural productivity. In its framework, various sector-specific market support schemes and a range of mechanisms governing the production and trading of agricultural products in the EU were introduced. The guarantees provided under those mechanisms vary according to the specific characteristics of individual products. The common organisation of the markets also covers general provisions on exceptional measures including measures to prevent market disruption caused by price fluctuations or other events, market support measures in the event of outbreaks of animal diseases or a loss of consumer confidence due to public, animal, or plant health risks, and measures relating to concerted practices adopted when markets suffer serious imbalances.
Market measures are usually linked to a specific programme period and are implemented over several years, or are product-specific and are implemented on an occasional basis. They are in force in the fields of milk and milk products, wine-growing and wine-making, beekeeping, school food and external trade. They also include temporary exceptional measures on the market in fresh fruit and vegetables. An important support mechanism for agriculture is state aid measures targeted at agricultural holdings which have suffered a loss of income as a result of incapacity to work, animal diseases or natural disasters.
Information on the quantities and prices of certain agricultural products or foodstuffs on representative markets are collected, processed and published in the Market Information System. Prices for milk and milk products, beef, pig meat, sheep meat and poultry meat, eggs, wine and fruit are sent to the European Commission weekly.