Agriculture and rural development

Scenar 2020 – Scenario study on agriculture and the rural world

Scenar 2020 – Scenario study on agriculture and the rural world

External studies
Scenar 2020 – Scenario study on agriculture and the rural world

The Scenar 2020 study aims at identifying of future trends and driving forces that will be the framework for the European agricultural and rural economy on the horizon of 2020.

Scenar 2020 provides a systematic review of the primary variables that rural and agricultural policies have to take into account. These are:

  • the rural demographic patterns
  • the agricultural technology
  • the agricultural markets
  • the natural and social constraints on land use that are likely to exist in 2020

Social and economic factors, both conditioned by technology, have a bearing on these primary variables, and these factors are both endogenous and exogenous. Technology determines what is possible in every domain, and social (consumer) demand determines what is economically viable. Social demand – as it affects the agricultural sector – does not only reflect consumer preferences in terms of food, but also environmental and health concerns, including the commitment by society as a whole to the wise use of natural resources (water, soil) and biodiversity preservation. It is these environmental and health concerns that define the natural and social constraints on land use. World markets and local production costs – including compensation measures that may offset operating charges – will inevitably both determine what is economically feasible in the EU and direct agricultural production to the geographical locations worldwide that provide sustainable livelihoods for farmers, or the greatest return on investment for agro-industrial enterprises.

The method used is to build a reference scenario ('baseline') that is based on an analysis of trends from 1990 to 2005, which is projected forward to 2020; the trend analysis provides a substantiated basis for determining the long-term driving forces that is reflected in the reference scenario. It is assumed that economic, agricultural and environmental policy may cause an inflection in these trends, so these are studied as a second level set of driving forces, also to be taken into account in the scenario exercise. The relative importance between various policy frameworks is understood by comparing two alternative – or 'counterfactual' – scenarios ('liberalisation' and 'regionalisation') to the reference scenario.

This reference scenario ('baseline') establishes a possible and reasonable perspective of what might happen until 2020 from today's perspective. The main agricultural policy assumptions are the conclusion of the WTO negotiations on the basis of the EU proposal and the strengthening of the second pillar by obligatory modulation. For the market side, a balanced market approach had been chosen leaving public stocks at a level of 1% to 2% of domestic consumption and adjusting support prices where necessary. The enlargement process would continue by the Western Balkan countries and Turkey.

The baseline is contrasted by two alternative scenarios representing two possible but extreme policy choices:

  1. The regionalisation scenario assumes that the WTO negotiations would not conclude and bilateral trade agreements would become more important. Agricultural policies would remain largely as they stand and rural development funding would be significantly increased. Consequently, total spending for the CAP would increase. For the market side again a balanced market approach had been chosen;
  2. The liberalisation scenario assumes a complete dismantling of the first pillar policies, i.e. agricultural markets would be completely liberalised and rural development funding substantially reduced. Environmental legislation would be partially withdrawn in order to assure competitiveness with agriculture in third countries and other sectors of the economy.

The comparison between scenarios occurs in two steps:

  • the first is a modelling exercise that analyses the likely outcome of each scenario using simulation models and other quantitative analyses. Where appropriate and necessary, these in-depth scenario analyses are complemented by qualitative analyses and expert judgement. The result is a description about how each scenario is expressed in spatial terms, across the EU-27, and in some case extended to the candidate countries for accession.
  • The second step is a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis, which is applied to each scenario in order to understand the implications in the following domains: demographic developments, dynamics of rural economies, and the future of the agricultural economy (specifically in terms of farm structures, production systems, and farm population demography). This occurs through the definition of 'typical' regions; such 'typical' regions are characterised by similar responses to the simulated factors.

This twelve-month study was carried out by the European Centre for Nature Conservation, Landbouw-Economisch Instituut, the Leibnitz-Zentrum für Agrarlandforschung, Leibnitz Institut für Länderkunde, the Central European University and the European Landowners Organisation. The study was reviewed in-depth by six independent experts during two workshops.


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