The Centre for European Agri-Environmental Studies (CEAS) has a long history of participating in policy debate in Europe and enhancing research of a European dimension.
The idea for the originally-named Centre for European Agricultural Studies arose in 1971 in the School of Agricultural Economics, Wye College, University of London. Its rationale was that as the UK joined the European Common Market, agricultural affairs in Britain would be heavily influenced by the Common Agricultural Policy. It was considered important that there should be an independent centre of research excellence, which would focus on the implications for UK food, farming and rural communities of the important new policy directions.
The purpose of the Centre, stated in the appeal document, was to offer “To agriculture and industry… research and investigation programmes, opportunities for bringing together British and European farmers, business executives, politicians, administrators, scientists and academics…a point of reference for authoritative discussion about current developments in European agriculture.” This appeal, launched in 1974, raised £463K to endow the Centre’s research activities.
In subsequent decades, CEAS enrolled a succession of fellows, scholars, and research associates to undertake research on European agriculture. Over these years, CEAS also provided funding to organise policy events of international standing, to assist PhD students participating in international academic events and to enable academics to be involved actively in the European Association of Agricultural Economists (EAAE).
Following the changes in the emphasis of the EU Common Agricultural Policy and consumer concerns, CEAS has renamed the Centre for European Agri-Environmental Studies, in 2000. Since 2006, CEAS has been a Centre of the University of Kent.
CEAS has been run under the honorary directorship of academics with an international profile in the area of agri-environmental studies. The current Director is Sophia Davidova, Professor in European Agricultural Policy and the Deputy Director is Dr Alastair Bailey, Reader in Agricultural Economics, both from Kent’s School of Economics.