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EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Network
News article20 January 2023

Networking CAP knowhow

Our CAP Implementation Contact Point has been expanding its networking activities across both CAP Pillars.

The EU CAP Network Implementation Contact Point has been expanding its networking activities across both CAP Pillars by participating in different events to help identify agri-food and rural development good practices for sharing as well as contributing knowhow during exchanges about EU approaches to CAP implementation.

Farming’s got talent! Vocational education and training for agriculture in transition’ was one of these events. It was organised by the European Commission’s DG Agriculture (DG AGRI) for teachers, students, training providers and other EU and national level actors to highlight the role that vocational education and training (VET) can play in creating a farming sector that is ready for the green and digital transition.

Delegates were able to identify the changes in skills needed in the EU farming sector to address the challenges brought forward by the twin green and digital transition. Successful vocational education and training (VET) experiences were shared for sustainable, digital-ready and resilient farming in the EU. Other outcomes covered challenges and possible ways forward through tools to support high quality VET programmes and promote collaboration and synergies to deliver them.

Wolfgang Burtscher, DG AGRI’s Director-General, explained to the ‘Farming’s got talent’ audience that practical experiences are needed but that it is just as crucial to have relevant theoretic knowledge as well. He believes that VET is necessary for that and repeated his message about the importance of data for optimising VET.

Interesting and useful data from the event presentations for CAP implementation stakeholders showed that: there is a mismatch in terms of levels of qualification  from one EU Member State to another and this depends on multiple factors; participation of agri-food workers (including forestry and fishing) in vocational education and training remains lower than in other sectors; and agricultural value added per worker vs GDP per capita improves  as a result of a better educated/trained human capital. Innovations capable of making agriculture-related education and training more attractive will lead to positive outcomes that allow new demand for skills and course adaptations.

Stronger partnerships between academia and agri-businesses will also help better align skillsets and student choices. Data continues to be a vital tool here too (as everywhere else in CAP implementation). Last but by no means least, lifelong learning possibilities and interests should be continuously improved and fostered, covering all workers and taking account of gender balance and opportunities from incoming skills from newcomers in rural areas.

Rural demographic support was also the focus of an event the EU CAP Network attended in Spain promoting: Entrepreneurship, innovation and socio-economic dynamisation of the rural environment.  Spain’s Aragón regional government and the regional entrepreneurship foundation arranged this expert gathering to help establish enabling factors for rural success, such as the promotion of territorial cohesion through measures that can help to address the demographic challenges. Different local, regional, national or European level administrations, with different scopes and for more or less time, have been promoting action programmes, strategies and regulations for this purpose, but also with different levels of success. These were shared during the event.

Rural Europe’s reliance on agriculture was recognised and underlined by DG AGRI’s 2022 EU Agricultural Outlook Conference last month. The EU Agricultural Outlook conference is one of DG AGRI’s flagship annual events. It succeeded in its aim to facilitate broad exchanges among stakeholders on market prospects in agriculture, including the political framework and uncertainties surrounding market developments in the next 10 years. Important issues expected to be faced and worked on by the EU in 2023 (and therefore topical for the EU CAP Network) were covered by two days of presentations and audience debates that attracted a large number of online delegates, who could all also interact directly by submitting questions to the speakers and panels.

There were frequent references to CAP Strategic Plans in terms of their implementation representing significant potential for fairer and greener outcomes.  Different conference sessions also explored the EU’s role in addressing challenges around global food security as well as work towards a more sustainable food system in the EU (and the role of the Farm to Fork Strategy therein). This included looking closely at the competitiveness of the livestock sector and climate action contributions as well as signposting the growing importance of science-led agro-ecology. Citizen well-being is also being reinforced as a cross-cutting goal for agricultural policy’s contribution to EU resilience in relation to food security and nutrition.

Field with fence

You can find out more from DG AGRI’s outlook publications. Short Term Outlook documents are based on the latest data and the reflections of market experts within the European Commission and published three times per year (in early spring, early summer and early autumn). A Medium Term Outlook publication is published once a year, presents the outlook for major EU agricultural markets, income and environment from now until 2032. It is based on a set of assumptions regarding macroeconomic conditions, the fixed agricultural and trade policy environment, and international market developments based on the latest OECD-FAO outlook. These assumptions imply relatively smooth market developments when, in reality, markets tend to be much more volatile. Therefore, the outlook is not a forecast. More precisely, the projections correspond to the average trends that agricultural markets are expected to follow in a given macroeconomic environment if policies were to remain unchanged.

The Outlook conference’s emphasis on livestock underlines the significance of this sector in the rural economy and the importance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Such CAP matters were also the focus of two other events attended by the EU CAP Network recently.The concluding conference of the EU-funded BovINE (Beef Innovation Network Europe) project focused on knowledge exchange to help address the challenges and drive the sustainability of the European beef farming sector and community.

Diego Canga Fano from DG AGRI opened the conference by highlighting the various challenges the beef sector faces with regard to misinformation and changing consumer trends, climate change, rising costs, etc. but the positive externalities it provides as well. The BovINE project approach using a thematic network was applauded and welcomed for having consistently engaged with farmers throughout to understand their needs and what they wanted to understand more about in terms of how to transition to sustainable production systems. One of the key outputs from the Thematic Network is the Knowledge Hub, which attracted over 400 contributions, featuring solutions and knowledge sharing.

Horizon 2020’s PATHWAYS project drew on the EU CAP Network’s expertise in its aim to identify policy options and business solutions to increase the overall sustainability of the EU livestock sector. A PATHWAYS event in December was devoted to developing visions around potential or desirable futures of the livestock sectors.

Insights that the EU CAP Network gained from participating included the feeling that carbon farming is on the tip of livestock farmers’ tongues and cooperation between producers remains a key challenge in some countries until younger people come into the sector. This points to the importance of generational renewal for future supply chain collaboration.


Publication date
20 January 2023
CAP Implementation