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activities > research areas > agriculture and rural development

Context of IPTS' research activities

Agriculture's wider contribution to the European Union's prosperity is considerable. The agri-food sector (including beverages) accounts for 1/7 of the total EU manufacturing output; it is the third largest employer in Europe and the second biggest exporter of foodstuffs globally.

Rural areas cover 90% of the European Union's territory and are home to approximately 50% of its population. Agriculture and forestry are the natural trade, and the way they are handled play a key role in the management of natural resources in rural areas and in determining the rural landscape. Agriculture makes a valuable contribution to the socio-economic development of rural areas and full realisation of their growth potential.

The 2003 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Reform aims at reducing the policy induced markets distortion by decoupling the direct farm payments, and placing higher emphasis on competitiveness, food quality, environmental, animal welfare and rural development aspects. Meanwhile the reform aims at being in accordance with sustainable development principles and the international liberalisation initiatives within the WTO. Without the CAP many rural areas of Europe would face major economic, social and environmental problems. Rural development measures, in particular, can play a significant role in fostering and maintaining prosperity in rural areas.

The IPTS' activities in this area in support of the current CAP reform focus on:

  • Assessing the impact of the CAP reform on the sustainability of farming systems, at regional level, particularly in new Member States.
  • Analysing policy options for creating a pan-European framework in support of quality labels and schemes.
  • Providing projections and policy impact analysis for main European agricultural commodities in terms of production, markets, prices, income and consumer welfare, in the context of CAP reform and international trade agreements and negotiations.

Agriculture is also the subject of IPTS' research activities from the perspective of the application of new biotechnologies to this area: namely the socio-economic assessment of genetically modified crops and organisms.

Scientific actions