Fifth Framework Programme - External Advisory Groups
Opinion of the External Advisory Group for the Key Action "Sustainable Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Integrated Development of Rural Areas"
This report is also available as PDF-file: agriculture1.pdf (56 Kb)
Informal Meetings - 12 and 24 November 1998
The deliberations of this expert group resulted in an important revision of the document, which can be explained according to the questions posed.
2.1 "Does the key action deal adequately with the problem solving approach, have the correct problems been addressed and has the way to tackle them been correctly described"
Agriculture, forestry, fisheries and related industrial sectors have traditionally been the economic and social backbones of rural and coastal areas of Europe which account for more than 80% of the EU territory and provide employment for some 17 million individuals. In addition to natural limitations to productivity, these sectors are facing new challenges due to evolving Community agriculture policy, liberalisation of trade, international commitments, advancing technological developments, as well as changing societal needs in terms of the environment and the quality of products and services.
The problem solving approach of this key action is set to help the relevant sectors to respond, adapt and eventually overcome the socio-economic difficulties posed by these challenges. It must establish a coherent multidisciplinary approach in support of the objectives and implementation demands of the evolving common agricultural and fisheries policies and for the realisation of the sustainable integrated development of rural areas. It must also provide the tools and means necessary to prepare, manage and adjust the rules and measures adopted under Community policy in the various areas concerned.
There is a need to support the implementation and evolution of both the CAP and CFP by providing sound scientific knowledge resulting from multi-disciplinary research efforts, which incorporate the socio-economic aspect. This must be integrated with regional development policies while taking into account the natural limitations and interactions with the environment.
An emphasis must be made on the new rural development policy, which has been designed to cover all rural areas in the Community, and is set to constitute a new pillar of the common agricultural policy. The approach should aim towards sustainable rural development, based on competitiveness, the exploitation of local development potential, the diversification of activities and land use, the involvement of local people, and the improvement of the quality of life.
In the specific case of fisheries the three main technical and socio-economic problems to be overcome were the overexploitation of fisheries resources, the need for greater food production from the sea, and the role of environmental interactions.
The forestry primary sector should consolidate the principles established at international level and take steps to promote their application in the management of Europe's forests. It should facilitate the application of specific Community forestry measures, and strengthen the role of forestry in rural development.
The forestry-wood chain, and the production of non-food products from renewable biomaterials, integrating the production and processing of raw materials with final product characteristics and market requirements, must respond to pressing societal needs with respect to environmental protection, sustainable management of renewable resources, and delivery of products complying with safety and environmental requirements, while operating under an efficient economic framework. It must also predict, anticipate and where necessary develop a number of diversified strategies to address future societal, market and technological demands. Finally, it must become a leading, competitive player in novel non-traditional market activities and new product outlets thereby realising the raw material and product diversity potential inherent to the sectors.
It was felt that the actual problems associated with the above sectors needed better identification. A greater elaboration of specific problems facing European agriculture such as " the future of European agriculture with respect to genetically modified organisms", and "the growth and control of organic farming" had not been explicitly described. It was concluded that while this was true the broad scope of the key action covered all potential problems, which either existed now or could arise. Furthermore there should be adequate recognition of and consultation with existing networks in these sectors, which have been established in past framework actions, when addressing the problem solving approach.
2.2 "Have the deliverables been clearly presented and are they sufficiently measurable both during the lifetime of the programme and at the end"
The major socio-economic deliverable of this key action must be the establishment of conditions, which ensure sustainable rural development. It must also provide the scientific and technological basis upon which, agriculture, fisheries, aquaculture, forestry non-food and related industries will retain their competitive edge, adapt to evolving societal requirements and respond to pressing environmental concerns. Research as proposed here is an important tool in achieving this but many other factors also come into play and must be recognised when measuring the progress of the key action.
2.3 "Is the choice of RTD priorities in 1999 appropriate to meet the programme objectives and achieve the anticipated deliverables"
The concept of a road map was found to be very relevant but due to the complex nature of the bullet points within key action 5 it should be made clear to the outside which aspects are actually open and when. The first deadline should cover aspects of production systems including diversification, plant health, animal health and welfare, fisheries management, non-food production, aspects of the multifunctional management of forests, forestry wood chain, and support for common policies. The second deadline will deal with improved farming systems, quality policy, fishery aquaculture environment interactions, aquatic production, multifunctional management of forests and rural development.
Linkages between RTD actions should be more transparent. Cross-referencing between sections should be shown wherever appropriate. The Group also recommended a joint meeting of the Groups on "Health, Food and Environmental Factors", "The Cell Factory" and "Sustainable Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry including Integrated Development of Rural Areas" be held to discuss specific topics of mutual interest in order to promote synergies and avoid overlap.