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Programme objectives

Introduction

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.

Main challenges

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 progress.
  • Managing and using resources in a sustainable manner
    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 projects.
  • 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

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