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Tools4CAP Focus Groups uncover key insights for advancing CAP Strategic Plans

Apr 15, 2024 | Tools4CAP Results

Author: Miranda García Lera

In an effort to enhance the design and monitoring of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Strategic Plans, the Tools4CAP project, has recently concluded the first round of its Focus Groups. This initiative, a cornerstone of the Stakeholder Engagement Platform, has been pivotal in gathering diverse perspectives and experiences to refine and improve the methods and tools employed in designing the CAP Strategic Plans.

Running from October 2023 to January 2024, Tools4CAP has successfully convened over 100 stakeholders in 14 National Focus Groups and one EU-level Focus Group. These Focus Groups served as an interactive platform for participants to discuss the current tools and methodologies outlined in the online inventory. Through dynamic discussions, participants shared their firsthand experiences and challenges encountered. They provided suggestions for improvements to the tools and methods employed thus far to enhance their applicability and effectiveness. These insights helped to further pinpoint the strengths and limitations of existing methods and tools, thereby informing the development or enhancement of tools that can support more evidence-based policy-making.

Stepwise process for the development and roll-out of the National Focus Groups. The time period indicated covers July-December 2023
Challenges identified

The discussions highlighted several challenges encountered throughout the design process of the CAP Strategic Plans. Among these were the time constraints faced by both policy-makers and involved stakeholders, impacting the processing of input, adequacy of tools used, and decision-making. The urgency to adapt to digital platforms, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, further exacerbated these time pressures and exposed digital skills gaps among stakeholders, hindering meaningful contributions, and limitations of the tools and methods employed. The lack of capacity and timely communication across stakeholder groups, led to raising issues of transparency and misunderstandings. Data-related challenges, including availability, reliability, and security, posed obstacles to stakeholder engagement, policy analysis, and monitoring efforts.

Addressing needs for the future

In response to these challenges, the Focus Groups have articulated a clear set of needs. There is a pressing demand for enhanced capacity and skills among stakeholders, authorities, and end-users, through comprehensive training programmes to bridge knowledge gaps and improve digital literacy. The transition to user-friendly digital platforms and the development of advanced technological solutions are seen as crucial steps towards more efficient and responsive policy-making processes. Furthermore, improved communication and transparency from authorities, alongside the exchange of best practices among Member States, are essential for fostering collaboration and informed decision-making processes.

Looking Ahead

The insights gathered from the first round of Focus Groups offer a valuable foundation for the Tools4CAP project as it moves forward with evaluating and improving existing tools, as well as developing new solutions to support the next generation of CAP Strategic Plans. By addressing the identified challenges and needs, the project aims, via practical case studies, to facilitate wider adoption and better uptake of innovative tools.

The second round of the Focus Groups will take place from June to December 2025.

More information: D6.5 Summary report and analysis of the first-round focus groups