The article briefly presents the genesis and evolution of direct payments as an instrument of Common Agricultural Policy, and the impact of reforms of direct support on the agricultural sector's flexibility in responding to changes in the size and structure of demand for agricultural products. Subsequently, the systems and models of direct payments used in the European Union have been reviewed and the direct support has been analyzed in order to identify those elements of the instrument, which differentiate the conditions for competition in the common market. It is argued that unification of direct support schemes would enable favourable (from the point of view of effective use of production factors) adjustments in the spatial distribution of agricultural productions within the European Union.
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