Enlargement countries - agriculture, forestry and fishing statistics

Data extracted in February 2019.

Planned article update: April 2020.


In 2017 in the EU enlargement countries, the contribution of agriculture, forestry and fisheries to value added varied between 7 % in Turkey to 22 % in Albania.

In 2017, the combined utilised agricultural area for the EU enlargement countries was 46 million hectares, equivalent to one quarter of the total for the EU.

Cereal production in the EU enlargement countries was around one seventh of the level in the EU in 2017.

Utilised agricultural area, 2017

This article is part of an online publication and provides information on a range of statistics for the agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors of the European Union (EU) enlargement countries, in other words the candidate countries and potential candidates. Montenegro, North Macedonia, Albania, Serbia and Turkey currently have candidate status, while Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo [1] are potential candidates.

The article provides an overview of recent developments in the enlargement countries, presenting indicators such as the relative importance of agriculture, forestry and fishing in terms of their contribution to gross value added and employment. It also provides more detailed data on agricultural land use, agricultural production, livestock populations and meat production, as well as trade in food, live animals, drinks and tobacco.

Full article

Gross value added and employment

The share of agriculture, forestry and fishing in value added is considerably higher in enlargement countries than in the EU

The relative weight of agriculture, forestry and fishing in terms of their contribution to gross value added was 1.7 % in the EU-28 in 2017 (see Figure 1). This was considerably smaller than in any of the enlargement countries, where Turkey recorded the lowest share at 6.9 %. In two of the enlargement countries these activities contributed at least one tenth of gross value added, peaking at 21.7 % in Albania.

Figure 1: Share of gross value added from agriculture, forestry and fishing (NACE Rev. 2), 2007 and 2017
(% of gross value added)
Source: Eurostat (nama_10_a10)

In 2017, the relative contribution of agriculture, forestry and fishing to gross value added in the EU-28 was the same as it had been in 2007, 1.7 %. Most enlargement countries recorded a decline in their shares of value added from these activities, with the largest fall — down 6.1 percentage points between 2008 and 2017 — recorded in Kosovo. By contrast, in Albania an increase of 2.0 percentage points was observed.

Employment in agriculture, forestry and fishing in the EU-28 accounted for 3.9 % of the total number of persons employed in 2017 (see Figure 2), some 2.3 times the contribution of these activities to total value added. The long-term reduction in the proportion of the total EU-28 workforce employed in agriculture, forestry and fishing continued, falling by 0.7 percentage points during the period 2007-2017.
Figure 2: Share of employment in agriculture, forestry and fishing (NACE Rev. 2), 2012 and 2017
(% of employment)
Source: Eurostat (lfsa_egan2)

Among the enlargement countries, Kosovo (4.4 %) recorded the lowest employment share for agriculture, forestry and fishing, while the 7.9 % share in Montenegro was the only other one below 10.0 %. By contrast, around one sixth to one fifth of the workforce was employed in agriculture, forestry and fishing activities in 2017 in most of the other enlargement countries, although in Albania this share was much higher, at 38.2 %.

Land use

Close to half of North Macedonia’s and Turkey’s area is used for agriculture

The area of each country that is used for agriculture varies according to climate, terrain and soil type, while the level of economic development and population density may also play a role in determining land use. Within the EU-28 roughly equal amounts of land (around 40 % of the total area) are used for agriculture and for forestry, with the remainder generally composed of built-up areas (villages, towns and cities), infrastructure (roads or railways), scrub or waste land.

The utilised agricultural area (UAA) refers to the area that is actually used for agricultural purposes. In 2017, the combined utilised agricultural area for the enlargement countries was around 46 million hectares, equivalent to around one quarter of the total for the EU-28. Among the enlargement countries, Turkey had by far the largest utilised agricultural area, some 38 million hectares. Relative to the size of each country, North Macedonia and Turkey recorded the highest proportions of their total area utilised for agricultural purposes, close to half (49.2 % and 48.7 % respectively) — see Figure 3 — while in Albania the share was two fifths (40.8 %). In the four remaining enlargement countries the share of utilised agricultural area was lower than the EU-28 average (40.0 %), with Serbia (underestimate) and Kosovo recording shares just under two fifths of their total area in 2017, Bosnia and Herzegovina a share around one third, while Montenegro registered by far the lowest share, less than one fifth (18.6 %).
Figure 3: Utilised agricultural area, 2007, 2012 and 2017
(% of total area)
Source: Eurostat (apro_cpnh1) and (reg_area3)

Agricultural production

Cereals and sugar beet production in enlargement countries was around one fifth or one sixth of the level in the EU-28

The production of cereals in the EU-28 was 311 million tonnes in 2017, while the combined harvest for the enlargement countries (including 2016 data for Albania) was around 46 million tonnes, equivalent to 14.7 % of the output of the EU-28 (see Table 1). A similar situation could be seen for sugar beet, where the combined production of the enlargement countries was equivalent to one sixth (16.6 %) of the EU-28 total, with production concentrated exclusively in Serbia and Turkey.
Table 1: Agricultural production, 2007, 2012 and 2017
(thousand tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (apro_cpnh1) and (apro_mk_farm)

Crop production levels can fluctuate substantially from year to year as a result of climatic/weather conditions and variations in demand. Apart from in North Macedonia, production of cereals was higher in 2017 than in 2007 in all of the enlargement countries, as it was in the EU-28. Sugar beet production in the EU-28 was notably higher in 2017 than in 2007. There was however a reduction in sugar beet production in Serbia (-26 % over the period under consideration), while Turkey registered a sizeable expansion between 2007 and 2017, with overall growth of 70 %.

The level of raw milk available on farms (which may include milk other than cows’ milk) was approximately 14 % higher in 2017 (171 million tonnes) in the EU-28 than it had been in 2007 (150 million tonnes). The latest information for the enlargement countries shows that Turkey had by far the highest milk production and reported an increase of 68 % between 2007 and 2017.

Climatic and cultural/religious particularities in the enlargement countries are reflected in their livestock production and slaughtering

In 2017, the number of cattle in the EU-28 was 88.8 million, some 1.1 million fewer than there had been in 2007, a fall of 1.2 %. Comparing the same years, North Macedonia reported little change in cattle numbers, while Turkey reported an increase of 44.5 %. Elsewhere among the enlargement countries the cattle population declined over this period, by around one twentieth in Bosnia and Herzegovina and one sixth to one fifth in Serbia, Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro. By 2017 the total number of cattle in the enlargement countries was 18.4 million, equivalent to 20.7 % of the EU-28 total.
Table 2: Livestock population, 2007, 2012 and 2017
(thousand heads)
Source: Eurostat (apro_mt_lscatl), (apro_mt_lspig), (apro_mt_lssheep) and (apro_mt_lsgoat)

Cultural particularities explain many of the differences in the structure of livestock rearing in the EU-28 and enlargement countries (see Table 2). For example, Turkey is a largely Muslim country and as such many of its citizens abstain from eating pork; the same is true in some of the Balkan countries, most notably in parts of Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania. Whereas in the EU-28 there were more pigs than cattle, among the enlargement countries this situation was only repeated in Serbia and in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Collectively, the number of pigs in enlargement countries in 2017 — 3.9 million — was equivalent to just 2.6 % of the EU-28 total.

Turkey alone reported 44.3 million sheep and goats in 2017 and the combined total for the enlargement countries was 51.4 million. As such, the number of sheep and goats in enlargement countries was relatively high when compared with the number in the EU-28, slightly more than half the estimated level (precise recent data are not available for the EU). In relation to the number of cattle and pigs, the number of sheep and goats was particularly high in Albania and Turkey, while it was relatively low in Serbia and Kosovo.

The livestock figures shown in Table 2 are, unsurprisingly, reflected in the meat production figures in Table 3, notably in the relatively low level of pig meat production in some enlargement countries. The quantity of pig meat produced in the EU-28 in 2017 was three times the level of output from cattle. Among the enlargement countries a higher ratio was observed for Serbia where pig meat production was 5.2 times as high as the level of meat production from cattle while in North Macedonia the ratio was 2.8, similar to that in the EU-28. By contrast, less pig meat was produced than meat from cattle in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Montenegro and Kosovo, as well as in Turkey where pig meat production was negligible.
Table 3: Slaughtered animal production, 2007, 2012 and 2017
(thousand tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (apro_mt_pann)

Among the four types of meat production shown in Table 3, pig meat had the largest share in Serbia (64 %) and North Macedonia (57 % of the total), whereas the highest shares of meat production from cattle were recorded in Kosovo (90 %) and Montenegro (64 %), and from poultry meat in Bosnia and Herzegovina (71 %) as well as in Turkey (66 %). In Albania, a more balanced pattern of production was observed, with all four types of meat accounting for at least 10 % of the total, with meat from cattle (43 %) and from sheep and goats (29 %) registering the largest shares.

Trade in food, live animals, drinks and tobacco

Note that the values of imports and exports shown in Tables 4 and 5 are presented in current prices. Fluctuating prices for raw and processed food may have a considerable impact on the trade position of a country, while climatic/weather conditions can determine if there is a surplus of food for export or the need for more imports.
Table 4: Imports of food, live animals, drinks and tobacco, 2007-2017
(million EUR)
Source: Eurostat (ext_st_eu28sitc) and (ext_lt_intercc)

The EU-28 consistently ran a trade deficit in food, live animals, drinks and tobacco products over the period 2007-2011, while in the most recent years (2012-2017) the EU-28 recorded a trade surplus for these products; note that the trade data presented for the EU-28 in Tables 4 and 5 concern extra-EU trade only.

Montenegro, North Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo recorded trade deficits during the entire period from 2007 to 2017 (insofar as data are available). By contrast, Serbia and Turkey both recorded trade surpluses for food, live animals, drinks and tobacco throughout the period shown.
Table 5: Exports of food, live animals, drinks and tobacco, 2007-2017
(million EUR)
Source: Eurostat (ext_st_eu28sitc) and (ext_lt_intercc)

Collectively, exports of food, live animals, drinks and tobacco from enlargement countries were valued at EUR 17.4 billion in 2017, equivalent to 14.3 % of the EU-28 total, while the value of imports of these goods into the enlargement countries was EUR 13.5 billion, equivalent to 12.1 % of the EU-28 total.

The highest value of exports of food, live animals, drinks and tobacco in 2017 among the enlargement countries was recorded in Turkey (EUR 13.8 billion), which was four fifths of all the food, live animals, drinks and tobacco exports from the enlargement countries. Serbia was the only other enlargement country with such exports valued in excess of EUR 1.0 billion, while exports of food, live animals, drinks and tobacco from Montenegro and Kosovo were valued at less than EUR 60 million.

Exports of food, live animals, drinks and tobacco from Montenegro were around one quarter (27 %) higher in 2017 than they had been in 2007, the smallest overall growth rate among the enlargement countries. Between 2007 and 2017, such exports from North Macedonia increased by a half (51 %), from Serbia, Turkey and Bosnia and Herzegovina (2008-2017) they more than doubled, from Kosovo they more than trebled, while from Albania they were more than nine times as high in 2017 as in 2007.

Data sources

Data for the enlargement countries are collected for a wide range of indicators each year through a questionnaire that is sent by Eurostat to partner countries which have either the status of being candidate countries or potential candidates. A network of contacts in each country has been established for updating these questionnaires, generally within the national statistical offices, but potentially including representatives of other data-producing organisations (for example, central banks or government ministries). The statistics shown in this article are made available free-of-charge on Eurostat’s website, together with a wide range of other socio-economic indicators collected as part of this initiative.

The situation for international trade statistics is somewhat different, as more detailed international trade statistics are available from Eurostat’s Comext database.

All statistics presented in this article as monetary values in euro terms are based on current price series.

The utilised agricultural area describes the area used for farming. It includes arable land, permanent grassland, permanent crops (such as orchards, olive trees and vineyards) and other agricultural land such as kitchen gardens.

Statistics on crop production relate to harvested production. Cereals include wheat (common wheat and spelt and durum wheat), rye, maslin, barley, oats, mixed grain other than maslin, grain maize, sorghum, triticale, and other cereal crops such as buckwheat, millet, canary seed and rice.

Meat production is based on the activity of slaughterhouses regarding meat fit for human consumption and estimates for production outside of slaughterhouses.

Tables in this article use the following notation:

Value in italics     data value is forecasted, provisional or estimated and is therefore likely to change;
: not available, confidential or unreliable value.


Agriculture was one of the first sectors of the economy (following coal and steel) to receive the attention of EU policymakers, and statistics on agriculture were initially designed to monitor the main objectives of the common agricultural policy (CAP). While the CAP remains one of the EU’s most important policies there have been wide ranging reforms, which have led to a range of new objectives designed to correct imbalances and overproduction.

In December 2013, the latest reform of the CAP was formally adopted by the European Parliament and the Council. The main elements of the CAP post-2013 concern: a fairer distribution of direct payments (with targeted support and convergence goals); strengthening the position of farmers within the food production chain (such as through: the promotion of professional and inter-professional organisations; changes to the organisation of the sugar and wine sectors; revisions to public intervention and private storage aid; and new crisis management tools); and continued support for rural development, safeguarding the environment and biodiversity. In June 2018, the European Commission presented proposals for the CAP beyond 2020, aiming to make the CAP more responsive to current and future challenges (such as climate change) while continuing to support farmers within a sustainable and competitive agricultural sector.

While basic principles and institutional frameworks for producing statistics are already in place, the enlargement countries are expected to increase progressively the volume and quality of their data and to transmit these data to Eurostat in the context of the EU enlargement process. EU standards in the field of statistics require the existence of a statistical infrastructure based on principles such as professional independence, impartiality, relevance, confidentiality of individual data and easy access to official statistics; they cover methodology, classifications and standards for production.

Eurostat has the responsibility to ensure that statistical production of the enlargement countries complies with the EU acquis in the field of statistics. To do so, Eurostat supports the national statistical offices and other producers of official statistics through a range of initiatives, such as pilot surveys, training courses, traineeships, study visits, workshops and seminars, and participation in meetings within the European Statistical System (ESS). The ultimate goal is the provision of harmonised, high-quality data that conforms to European and international standards. Additional information on statistical cooperation with the enlargement countries is provided here.


  1. This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.
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