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GROWTH - 6 December 2019

Indicators assessing the economic and environmental performance of EU agriculture in the framework of the CAP

by Farm Europe

December 2019


For 30 years, the environment has been an integrated part of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and today it has become one of the main dimensions of this policy.

A “greening” measure was introduced during the 2013 reform to strengthen the environmental and climate performance of the CAP. The conclusions on the results of this measure are mixed, pointing to the lack of clarity of its objectives and the need to establish quantified objectives.

In this context, the post-2020 CAP reform proposes a new “Ecoscheme” tool to replace this greening measure. This tool is intended to drive a transition to more sustainable agriculture, ensuring both economic and environmental performance. In response to the criticisms made about the greening measure, it is needed a solid and quantified monitoring of the impact of this plan at farm level, using simple tools.

Many indicators attempt to assess the performance of the CAP at European level. However, the latter give an administrative image of the implementation of the CAP by monitoring the number of hectares or farms involved in different measures, without being able to assess the environmental or economic benefits of these measures.

Thus, what indicators should be put in place to quantitatively assess the impact of the Ecoscheme plan on the economic and environmental performance of farms, in a simple and rapid way?

In response to this problem, and in order to enrich the European Commission’s reflections, the think tank Farm Europe proposes a set of indicators. This structure is described in the first part.

The need to put in place indicators to measure the achievement of economic and environmental objectives is also explained.

In order to set up such indicators, the concepts of economic and environmental performance are defined followed by a presentation of the methodology applied to identify the indicators.

Finally, for each environmental or economic element to be assessed, the construction of the corresponding indicator is detailed. The elements measured are justified, the adaptation of existing indicators is explained. The equations to measure these elements are presented, as well as the data needed to feed them.

Lastly, the management, limitations and perspectives of this set of indicators assessing the impact of the CAP and future ecoschemes are discussed.


full study available on Farm Europe Members Area (in french)

Written by Farm Europe