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  • Final Report Summary - MEA-SCOPE (Micro-economic instruments for impact assessment of multifunctional agriculture to implement the Model of European Agriculture)

MEA-SCOPE Streszczenie raportu

Project ID: 501516
Źródło dofinansowania: FP6-POLICIES
Kraj: Germany

Final Report Summary - MEA-SCOPE (Micro-economic instruments for impact assessment of multifunctional agriculture to implement the Model of European Agriculture)

Rural landscapes in Europe serve various economic, environmental and social functions. Therefore, land use is more and more regarded as an integral part of sustainable rural development. Agriculture, as the most important land user in many European regions, has at all times produced food, fibre and other primary goods. But lately, for example as a result of climate change impacts, economic challenges and imbalances and changed consumer preferences, new agricultural functions, goods and services (also referred to as Non-commodities (NCOs)) have attracted increasing attention, for example the preservation of the cultural landscape, the preservation of precious habitats, but also recreation and education amenities and many more.

The paradigm of 'multifunctionality' includes the various contributions of agricultural land use to the economic, environmental and social functions of rural landscapes. The European agricultural policy has redefined the role of agriculture in the recent years. The Model of European agriculture (MEA) is now strongly based on the term of 'multifunctionality'. Multifunctionality refers to the fact that an economic activity may have multiple outputs, i.e. most economic activities will have, in addition to their intended output, other (often unintended) outputs and effects. At the same time, the reforms of the Common agricultural policy (CAP) from the 2000 agenda reform onwards set up the political framework for a practical controllable implementation of multifunctional agriculture as a way to achieve a sustainable rural development. To ensure transparency, efficiency and optimal distributional consequences of political reforms continuous 'objective' evaluations both ex post (what has been) and ex ante (what will happen) are required. Specific tools are required to assess the impact of existing and future agricultural policy options on the degree of multifunctionality reached in different European regions with different geophysical and urban-rural conditions.

MEA-SCOPE was a policy-oriented research project funded under the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), which developed such a tool for the ex ante assessment of policies impact on the multifunctionality of agriculture and addresses the multifunctionality of agriculture. The project, which started in May 2004, is coordinated by ZALF and is conducted by 11 partner research institutions in 9 European countries.

A major objective of the MEA-SCOPE approach was to analyse and assess the effects of alternative policy options on the economic, social and environmental performance of individual farms in seven European case study regions. The numerous analyses conducted within the MEA-SCOPE project have demonstrated how much heterogeneity matters. A broad brush implementation of policy measures which is usually favourable from a monitoring and administration perspective, takes not adequate account of the huge geo-physical but also socioeconomic diversity and dynamics that characterise European regions.

All our seven case study regions experienced the impacts of structural change in our scenarios expressed by a decreasing number of farms over time and an increase of average farm size. Both effects were more pronounced in the two liberalisation scenarios compared to the two scenarios with coupled or decoupled first-pillar-payment support. Also, the farm composition changed, as especially beef-producing farms were very sensitive to the abolition of livestock specific direct payments. From the environmental perspective, we could observe that in all scenarios the biotic indicators were much more sensitive than the abiotic indicators as their performance is directly related to the use of grassland. Falls grassland out of production or used more intensively, the situation for the biotic indicators gets worse. A comparison showed that in this situation the introduction of second pillar programs such as agri-environmental measures or a grassland-related Natura 2000 program that these measures to some extent can act as a corrective. The offered measures could improve the overall biotic situation despite of also some negative impacts on some of the indicators (e.g. Flora).

Particularly the scenario designed as an implementation of the current policy framework in the MEA-SCOPE regions, led to an intensification on arable land as a result of a stronger market-orientation of the farms but also to an extensification on grassland as a result of the reduced stocking numbers. This farm behaviour is one to one reflected in the environmental risks calculated for the two land cover types considered. On arable land, the REF scenario caused an environmental deterioration while on grassland the decoupling of payments in combination with the introduction of grassland-related-cross-compliance standards produced relief compared to the baseline or BAS scenario which imitated the former 2000 agenda policy characterised by coupled crop and livestock specific payments in combination with mandatory set aside restrictions. Although all scenarios bore the risk of land abandonment in marginal areas, e.g. less fertile arable areas or extensively used grassland areas, the most marginal areas were abandoned in the liberalisation scenarios, while the decoupling scenarios, usually also associated with a greater land abandonment in marginal areas, showed only moderate effects.

In economic terms, we also identified very different reactions. The greatest income losses occurred in the German region, while the Slovakian region located in the only accession country naturally experienced a strong increase in average farm income in all scenarios. At the same time, the participation in second pillar programs in the German region decreased while the share of income coming from this source increased. In contrast, in the Slovakian region the participation rates went up accompanied only by a moderate increase in the share of income from the second pillar. In the Danish and the Italian region, all scenarios led to an increase in average farm income. While in Italy, this trend further continued, the Danish farm income eventually declined again. Although the scenarios affected the participation in second pillar programs (increase in Denmark, decrease in Italy), the share of second pillar income in Denmark remained constant and even decreased in Italy.

A project website (please see online) was installed during the first phase of the project to inform the public about the major goals and expected outcomes of the project. This public part of the website was designed according to the specific requirements of the general public. Additionally, project information material has been compiled and disseminated by all project partners and related networks (i.e. the 'Landscape Tomorrow' network). Scientific and policy oriented meetings have been employed to inform the auditorium about MEA-SCOPE's objectives and findings.

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Katharina HELMING
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