Author: Dr. Vitalija Simonaitytė (LCSS)
Editor: Miranda García (AEIDL)
On 7 November 2023, the Lithuanian Centre for Social Sciences (LCSS), Institute of Economics and Rural Development, organised the first focus group meeting for the Horizon Europe project “Tools4CAP – Innovative Toolbox empowering effective CAP governance towards EU ambitions”. The meeting focused on the topic of Monitoring and data collection tools.
Representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Lithuania, the National Payment Agency, the Lithuanian Farmers’ Union, the Chamber of Agriculture of the Republic of Lithuania, UAB ESTEP Vilnius, and the LSSC Institute of Economics and Rural Development participated in the focus group discussion. The discussion revolved around three key sets of questions, focusing on:
- Identifying tools used in the design and implementation of the CAP Strategic Plan and evaluating their functionalities.
- Understanding challenges faced by policy-makers in the different SP steps for which they have used monitoring and data collection tools.
- Defining policy-makers’ needs in improving the tools or adopting new ones.
The focus group discussion revealed that in Lithuania the commonly applied tools for the design and implementation of the CAP Strategic Plan are Focus Groups, the Cumulative voting approach, Expert Judgment, Socio Economic Analysis, and Comparative analysis. Scenario Building or Scenario Modelling, though less frequently applied, were recognised as highly informative tools.
These tools are used in specific sequences or steps in the policy design and implementation process. The functionality of the tools was discussed, noting that focus groups are effective in gathering diverse opinions but also, they can be politically influenced, as members of the focus groups often represent certain interests. On the other hand, tools like comparative analysis, expert judgement and or socio-economic analysis were praised for their accuracy and validity.
The main challenges faced by Lithuanian policy-makers encompass a range of issues, including institutionalisation (mandated use of specific national and/or supranational tools), technical constraints (limitations in time, budget, and expertise), relevance (consideration of long-term data and its adaptability to current transformations), and general availability (data protection and openness, communication, user-friendly access). Alongside these challenges, detailed solutions to address them were proposed.
The focus group concluded with a consensus that policy-makers need high-quality and timely national data, user-friendly digital platforms, and better time management for enhancing existing tools or adopting new ones.