Sustainable production and the prudent use of natural resources are now critical objectives for the EU's agricultural research programmes, and elements that are intrinsically linked to the overall quality of life of Europe's citizens. An integrated approach, combining the latest advances in science, together with socio-economic and environmental factors is proving essential in ensuring responsible resource use. Maintaining the hard-won competitiveness of the European agriculture sector remains a key driving force behind research activities - helping both to protect jobs and to use resources efficiently and sustainably. Efforts to support the implementation of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the Common Fisheries Policies (CFP), and measures promoting the sustainable management of the forestry sector are on-going. As far as biological resource use is concerned, research activities aim to produce new and improved products while paying careful attention to their potential impact on the environment.
Who is involved?
Partners in EC-funded projects include scientists from across the EU and its Member and associated states, who work in research institutes, universities, NGOs, and private companies. Whether searching for better controls on varroa mites in honey-bee colonies, or finding new ways to produce wood pulp, these bodies work together to achieve common goals.
While some research activities solve specific scientific problems, others give policy makers the tools and methods they need to guide the evolution of European agriculture. This might involve providing information for new policy generated by the EC's Agriculture DG, particularly relating to the EC's common agricultural and fisheries policies. Research can also offer quantative and qualitative assessment of the effectiveness of current agrarian practices and policies. Areas of study include farm-management policies, food safety, and rural development.
Many needs have to be balanced when conducting agricultural research. They can be summed up in the following question: How can European social, economic and environmental objectives be met through scientific and technological advances, while respecting sustainable approaches to natural resource use? A multi-disciplinary approach is certainly required - involving farmers, consumers, regulatory bodies, and scientists - as EU agricultural research aims to meet the following challenges:
- Maintaining competitiveness
This has implications for employment levels and working
conditions in the agricultural sector. In this respect,
research can have a significant influence on Europe's
economic performance and trading position. But the needs
of the environment must not be sacrificed to maintain
competitiveness; therefore research seeks to provide sustainable
solutions. EU-funded research supports the decision-making
process by providing information that takes account of
both economic and environmental impacts and needs. At
a strategic level, research feeds into the EC's decision-making
process, informing the Common Agricultural Policy and
the Common Fisheries Policy. Therefore policy-makers are
now able to make informed choices that drive sustainable
- Managing and using resources in a sustainable
For many years, the world has recognised that
economic growth has to be achieved without stripping the
planet of its resources. EU research aims to strengthen
the performance of bio-based industries by pulling together
the skills and knowledge of various scientific disciplines.
When not informing policy, research projects usually find
solutions to problems or discover new, more efficient
production methods. While meeting current and future market
needs, the answers must also take account of global and
local environmental needs. The sensible and sustainable
uses of the Earth's resources are therefore key factors
for the Commission when it considers supporting research
- Meeting consumer demand and needs
Research focuses on delivery of high-quality products
that meet market requirements but that are also safe for
use by the consumer and kind to the environment.
Food Quality and Safety Work Programme
Scientific Support to Policies (SSP) Work Programme