Mountain farming and rural areas in Europe
Farming systems respectful of the environment and anchored in their territory
Mountain agriculture is characterized by extensive low input and low output farming systems , oriented towards specific productions of high quality . These farming systems are dominated by livestock production, based on grazing, and by permanent crops (orchards, vineyards…).
Farms are in general smaller compared to national averages of respective countries. Pluri-activity is strongly represented and small farmers are numerous, especially in the Carpathians where semi-subsistence farming still dominates.
Agriculture finally very often represents the basis of the local economy and is closely inter-related to other economic sectors, such as agro-food industry and tourism.
Mountain agriculture represents 18% of agricultural holdings , 15% of agricultural utilised area and 15% of agricultural workforce in Europe. Because of the geographical constraints to farming leading to overcosts, work productivity is on average lower by 28% in mountain areas compared to less favoured areas and by 40% compared to low lands.
Mountains in the common agricultural and rural development policy (CAP)
The CAP is the only one among European policies offering a specific approach for mountain areas and differentiated measures. Article 32 of regulation 1305/2013 on less favoured areas offers a European framework for a definition of mountain areas based on subsidiarity. For the first time, the CAP provides to the Member States, two ways to support mountain areas: a system of direct payments per hectare for areas with natural constraints, and a payment under the rural development policy to compensate farmers for additional costs and loss of income resulting from natural constrains.
Beyond this specific attention, the CAP has tended, in the past, for historical reasons, to favour the most productive lowland farming systems, at the expense of mountain farmers. The “green” dimenssion of the CAP after 2015 aimed at rewarding farmers for the maintenance of the landscape and the biodiversity, as well as the mitigation of climate change effects, could help to change this tendency.
However, the new flexibility of the CAP allows Member States to make a tailored policy, which in practice can lead to very different approaches to the mountain areas from one Member State to another. In order to see the actual implications of the new CAP on mountain areas, it will be necessary to wait for the final decisions on the implementation in each Member State.
Policy – representation
Euromontana represents mountain communities through networking activities implemented to define common positions and by participation in official EU consultative bodies.
Euromontana is in particular an expert member of the Civil Dialogue Groups on CAP, Rural development and Quality products organised by DG AGRI of the European Commission .
Euromontana also keeps in close contact with MEPs of the AGRI Committee as well as with the NAT section of the Committee of the regions and of the European Economic and Social Committee .
The future of the CAP after 2013
The political activity on agriculture and rural development has been dominated since 2008 by the debate on the future of the common agriculture and rural development policy.
In 2008, Euromontana initiated its reflection on this subject and has set up a network of “CAP referees “, which is consulted as a priority for the definition of actions to carry out on the themes of mountain farming and mountain rural development.
This reflection has allowed Euromontana to elaborate a common position which was presented on the 7th of October 2009 in Clermont -Ferrand and submitted to the public debate on the CAP launched by Commissioner Ciolos in spring 2010.
- See our position on the future of the CAP after 2013 submitted on 3rd June 2010
The European Commission, following the public debate, published on October 18th 2010 a communication on the future of the CAP towards 2020 and opened a public consultation on this communication, to which Euromontana responded on the 25th January 2011.
Legislative proposals on the future common agricultural policy have been published by the European Commission on October 12th, 2011.
- See the legislative proposals
Since then Euromontana is actively involved in the on-going negotiation at the Council and Parliament.
- See all documents regarding the debate on the common agricultural policy
The revision of the less favoured areas regime
The European Commission has launched, via a communication from 2009, the revision of the support system for less favoured areas and especially the eligibility rules of the different areas in the context of article 19. This revision follows a report by the European Court of Auditors which questions the legitimacy of the delimitation of these areas.
Mountain areas which are registered under article 18 of the regulation are not within the scope of this revision. However, intermediate LFAs, which cover a wide part of Piedmont areas and some mountain areas in countries which are not using article 18, are concerned.
Euromontana responded to the consultation organised in 2009 and has repeated several times since its attachement to balanced solutions.
- See Euromontana response to the consultation in 2009 (Anglais)The last elements of the reform of less favoured areas are being discussed in the framework of the negotiation on the CAP.
Coordination and networking
The European network for rural development
Euromontana is one of the 12 European organisations participating in the European network for rural development.
Together with representatives from the Member States (representatives of ministries and coordinators of National Rural Networks), Euromontana contributes to the reflection on improving delivery of rural development policies and exchanging best practices .
Euromontana is a member of the ENRD coordination committee as well as of the LEADER sub-committee. And has also been part in other expert groups of the ENRD such as the Focus Groups on Knowledge Transfer and Innovation or the Thematic initiative on Youth and Young Farmers.
The network has set-up since its creation at the end of 2008 several thematic groups, organised various seminars and it also offers several services.
Euromontana participates in the debates of the Agricultural and Rural Convention which was created in spring 2010 to assemble various individuals and organisations wishing to debate the future of the Common Agricultural Policy. To visit the ARC website, click on the logo.
Projects & studies
Project “A new CAP: mountains of opportunities”
“A new CAP: mountains of opportunities” is an information campaign on the new Common Agricultural Policy for the 2014-2020 period for mountain rural stakeholders. The project is co-financed by the Directorate General of Agriculture and Rural Development of the European Commission.
Click here to access the webpage of the project.
FAO project Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development in Mountain areas
Development of rural territories
- Services of general interes: see the final report
- Challenges of pastoralism: see the final report
- Collective initiatives in the field of culture and heritage: see the final report
Agriculture and environment
In 1997, immediately following its creation, Euromontana conducted for DG Environment of European Commission a reference study on the integration of environmental concerns in mountain farming. Studies for each mountain range were carried out and published. This work is available for consultation at the Secretariat in Brussels.
Two seminars were organised by Euromontana in the framework of the reflection on the future of the CAP after 2013:
- 22-24 October 2014 IXth European Mountain Convention, “Quality from the mountains: prosperity for people and territories”, Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain.
- 10,12,16 and 18 of July 2014: ” A new CAP: which are the opportunities for the development of mountain supply chains?“, 5 national seminars in France, Slovenia, Romania, Italy and Portugal.
- 6-7 June 2013: “Inspiring programming for living European mountains by 2020”, Rome, Italy, in collaboration with the Italian National Rural Network
- 14-16 October 2009: “Europe’s mountain bonus: how communities and land management produce positive externalities to European society and the related policies and opportunities” – Arantzazu, Basque Country, Spain, Dg AGRI information measures conference
- 7 October 2009: “The future of mountain livestock farming: a territorial and economic challenge for Europe”, Clermont-Ferrand, France, seminar co-organised with SIDAM on the occasion of the Livestock summit
- 26 June 2008: “The CAP health check and the future of the CAP”, Brussels, Belgium – seminar co-organised with the Basque government.
- 4-5 October 2007: “Towards integrated Mountain Areas Development and its recognition in the Common agricultural policy – Shaping the New European Space “, Piatra Neamt, Romania- DG AGRI information measures conference”
For any information related to agriculture and rural development in mountain areas, contact Damiana Maiz