Author: Roxana Vilcu (ECORYS)
The recent meeting in Brussels, hosted by Ecorys on 11 January 2024, was a crucial component of the Tools4CAP project. The EU-level Focus Group served as a collaborative platform, complementing the ongoing efforts of 16 national-level Focus Groups across different countries. The National Focus Groups have been actively discussing diverse tools necessary for the design and implementation of the CAP Strategic Plans (CSP), ranging from stakeholder needs assessment to policy analysis, policy choice supporting tools, and monitoring and data collection tools.
The EU-level Focus Group brought together several representatives from national authorities such as Belgium (Flanders), Estonia, France and Romania, along with European-level entities, including DG AGRI, the Committee of the Regions and the EU CAP Network. The discussion revolved around the preliminary findings of the National Focus Groups, particularly the challenges and needs of policy-makers and practitioners in the different stages of designing the CAP Strategic Plans.
Participants stressed the importance of establishing or enhancing networks at various levels – EU, national, and regional – to facilitate effective peer learning and knowledge exchange among Member States. In terms of the design and evaluation of CAP Strategic Plans, there was a consensus on the need for early provision of guidelines. These guidelines should be flexible and provide a list of ideas and options that can be taken up by authorities. Additionally, the introduction of minimum mandatory requirements in regulations was acknowledged as a way to simplify the interpretation of legal provisions.
Discussions surrounding interventions, targets, and financial allocation highlighted that assigning higher priority does not necessarily translate into a higher budget assigned. The need for a self-assessment tool was recognised to ensure internal consistency in CSPs. Participants foresaw a growing demand for field-level data and the monetisation of cost/benefits associated with agricultural practices. The importance of considering local and regional specificities in target setting and financial allocation was emphasised. Participants underscored the relevance of ex ante evaluations in providing a comprehensive understanding of the CSP being designed and identifying synergies among its components.
The outcomes of the EU-level Focus Group meeting will complement the National Focus Groups findings to be published as part of Deliverable 6.5 on the Analysis of the first round of Focus Groups, expected in the coming months.