APPENDIX 5: RESPONSE FROM COMMISSIONER
GEOGHEGAN-QUINN AND COMMISSIONER CIOLOS|
Preparatory work and launch of EIP
Over the last months, the European Commission has
initiated an internal reflection to define i.a. the objectives,
key components and governance of the future European Innovation
Partnership (EIP) 'agricultural productivity and sustainability',
while ensuring coherence with other EIPs. It intends to involve
the Standing Committee on Agricultural Research (SCAR), farm organisations,
environmental NGOs and Member States into these reflections during
the coming months before finalising the EIP implementation plan.
The official launch of the agricultural EIP, will
be followed by the establishment of a High Level Steering Group
which will be tasked with identifying, prioritising and selecting
the areas that will most benefit from a partnership approach,
and deliver productive, sustainable agriculture through innovation.
This will be followed by a presentation of the EIP to the Parliament
and the Council.
The partnership would mobilise and bring together
all actors around a common targetfrom those conducting
basic and applied research, all the way to the final user like
farmers and businesses, including every step in between. This
would require overcoming barriers resulting from a traditional
'division of labour', be it across geographical borders or areas
The partnership should provide these actors with
a forum, in which they can indentify, develop and test innovative
solutions and ensure the smoothest possible transition from conception
to implementation. In addition to these stakeholders, it will
involve Programming Authorities, the SCAR, and the Commission.
An important part of the governance structure of
the EIP would be the setting up of a high-level steering group
with a direct link to the political level (e.g. Council, European
Parliament, region) and a balanced representation of private stakeholders
(e.g. farmers, researchers, environmentalists, consumers).
Whilst it is important to have all major players
on board, it is equally important to keep the steering group manageable
and 'light', ensuring that it can work as efficiently as possible.
The steering group should, therefore, have an upper limit as regards
the number of members in total as well as per category of stakeholders.
Role of EIP in fast-track regulation
The main role of the possible future EIP 'Agricultural
Productivity and Sustainability' would be to look at the whole
innovation cycle from R&D all the way to products or services
on the market and enhance the effectiveness and the integration
of innovation instruments. In this respect it will rely mainly
on existing instruments, rather than creating new ones. It will
look at actions provided by the Rural Development Policy and the
Research Framework. These may include cooperation, pilot-projects,
knowledge transfer, advisory services, and dissemination. It is
anticipated that the creation of a functioning network will fill
the current gap between farmers, rural enterprises, and advisors,
on the one hand, and science on the other to allow the sector
to take full advantage of innovation to produce more with less.
It will improve co-ordination between actors and facilitate the
use of opportunities provided by the different policy fields (Common
Agricultural Policy (CAP), EU Research Policy).
Bottlenecks that stop ideas reaching the market
The possible future EIP 'Agricultural Productivity
and Sustainability' will seek to overcome obstacles to innovation
in the sector, and may include (in addition to those already mentioned
in the reply to the first questionnaire of the House of Lords):
· In spite of valuable outcomes of agricultural
research and the interest of farmers in innovation, research results
often remain on the shelf, and instruments for testing and applying
innovation are not used. The main problem is the insufficient
information flow and missing links between different actors (farmers,
advisers, enterprises, and researchers).
· Agricultural research across the EU is
fragmented, as more than 90% of agricultural research takes place
at Member State level. Interesting results and innovative concepts
often do not gain sufficient attention due to limited exchange
on research activities.
· Farmers' Unions level the criticism that
most research projects are related to questions of policy support
or conceptual work. They argue that it is necessary to give more
emphasis to projects addressing directly farmers' practical needs.
A better linkage of research actors in an agricultural innovation
and knowledge system at European, National and Regional level
could target innovation needs with research investments.
· The EU has consistently endorsed actions
to integrate environmental concerns into European policies and
to develop respective EU policy guidelines. EU agriculture is
subject to a comprehensive regulatory framework related to environmental
issues. In spite
of the importance of agricultural land and its functions, soil
problems have not received sufficient attention. Thus, action
is needed on sustainable land managementthe High Level
Steering Group may find that the EIP is a suitable way of addressing
· Current Rural Development Policy offers
measures for co-operation. However, the measures are not offered
in all programmes and uptake is low. One of the reasons, beyond
lacking information, hindering the use of these measures is the
current inflexibility concerning the involvement of actors other
than farmers (e.g. industry and researchers).
· The current policy framework does not
sufficiently facilitate the implementation of pilot projects.
Pilot projects have a particularly important role for innovation
as they are meant to support the development of knowledge, to
check whether innovative ideas suggested by research results are
applicable to practice and can be adapted to local circumstances.
Evidently, the risk of failure for pilot projects is high and,
therefore, pilot projects need special attention and promotion
Building a bridge between farmers, businesses, advisory
services and research
See reply to question 2.
Innovation in the "pre-EIP period"
The Rural Development Policy currently foresees a
wide range of actions fostering innovation in the farm and forestry
sectors: Actions concerning co-operation and clustering involve
farmers, advisers, researchers, and administrations in view of
bridging the gap between research and practice and spreading knowledge
over successful approaches. Pilot projects can help transfer research
results into practice, considering regionally different structures
and natural circumstances. Networking and knowledge transfer promote
the dissemination of innovative approaches. In addition the CAP
provides for a Farm Advisory System (FAS), established to help
farmers better cope with cross-compliance requirements.
However, it is certainly correct to state that more
needs to be done in view of bringing research results faster to
application and developing a research agenda corresponding to
needs: The FAS has not yet been applied in all Member States and
the actual application of innovation-related Rural Development
measures may fall short of programme priorities identified by
Member States and regions. Within a general overhaul of Rural
Development Policy, attention would be given also to facilitating
the uptake of measures by operational groups. Furthermore, the
effective application of innovation measures under the EU Research
Policy will be a matter of intensive reflection.
In this respect, the EIP will bring a more systematic
approach, at all levels, of steering, and animating innovation
Future EU research policyWeaknesses/strengths
of European Research Area
Simplifying the management and accessibility of the
framework programme for research and development has been the
object of specific actions by the Commission. It is in the Commission
objectives that lessons learnt from the implementation of FP 7
be utilised for the design of the next programme through which
research and innovation will be fundedthe Common Strategic
Framework for Research and Innovation funding. In February 2011
the European Commission launched a consultation on major improvements
to EU research and innovation funding to make participation easier,
increase scientific and economic impact and improve value for
money. The proposed "Common Strategic Framework", set
out in a Green Paper, would cover the current Framework Programme
for Research (FP7), the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework
Programme (CIP) and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology
will create a coherent set of instruments, along the whole "innovation
chain" starting from basic research, culminating in bringing
innovative products and services to market, and also supporting
non-technological innovation, for example in design and marketing.
The Commission's Green Paper also provides the basis for far-reaching
simplification of procedures and rules. The changes aim to maximise
the contribution of EU research and innovation funding to the
Innovation Union and the Europe 2020 Strategy. Stakeholders have
until 20 May 2011 to respond.
With such tools as ERA-Nets, the EU research programme
has proven able to deliver new value added of research at national
and EU levels by fostering coordination of national and EU research
efforts to allow better targeting at a low budget and "administrative"
In the agricultural field, several ERA-Nets improve
coordination in several fields (e.g. for the FP 7: ARIMNET: agricultural
research in the Mediterranean region; EMIDA: research on infectious
livestock diseases; ETB-PRO: cooperation of biotech SMEs; ICT-AGRI:
ICT and robotics in agriculture; RURAGRI: relationships between
rural areas and agriculture in Europe). The SCAR whose mandate
is to advise the Commission and the Member States on the coordination
of agricultural research in Europe generates Collaborative Working
Groups (CWG) on topics deemed of high importance, of which some
have become ERA-Nets in a later phase
Work of Standing Committee on Agricultural Research
The collaborative working group on Agriculture Knowledge
and Innovation Systems (CWG-AKIS), set up under the initiative
of France and the Netherlands, started to operate beginning of
2010 with a work plan extending until the end of 2011. The CWG-AKIS
aims to foster the links between research in the agricultural
field and implementation of this knowledge through agricultural
innovations. This has never been an easy task for a number of
reasons. Yet in recent years, the needs for proper interactions
between the research and agricultural areas have become even more
important, given the new challenges that European agriculture
has to face (climate change, environmental policies, etc.). Moreover
this CWG takes place at the time when the reform of the CAP is
being discussed. Therefore, the subject of CWG-AKIS turns out
to be an extremely timely topic to be embraced by the SCAR.
The AKIS-CWG will allow to take stock of the existing
in the various Member States and to come up with recommendations
that could be taken up at the level of the individual Member States,
but also at the EU level within the CAP reform process.
In order to be successful, the agricultural EIP will
need to find the right implementing mechanisms for effectively
applying the innovations serving the purpose of improving productivity
in line with sustainable resource management. The review of AKIS
in various Member States and the recommendations
for the improvement of their delivery to be produced by the CWG-AKIS
will provide a valuable input for designing the agricultural EIP
to maximise its capacity to deliver.
European Bio-EconomyRoles EU and Member States;
role of farmers
In cooperation with other Commission services, DG
RTD is leading the preparations of the Commission Communication
"European Strategy and Action Plan towards a sustainable
bio-based economy by 2020" to be adopted in November 2011.
A number of stakeholder consultations have been carried already,
e.g. the Belgian Presidency's high-level conference "Knowledge
Based Bio-Economy towards 2020" on 13-14 September 2010.
The Commission has just opened an on-line public consultation
(22 February 2011),
and, with the assistance of external expert groups, is preparing
an impact assessment of a possible strategy and action plan. In
this context the Commission will analyse ex-ante impacts on society,
economy and environment, and skill needs for the future bio-economy.
A working group, composed of services of the European Commission
related with bio-economy, was launched in late 2010 to assist
the preparation of the strategy and action plan and the follow
up of its implementation.
The strategy and action plan will aim at offering
improved coordination at EU level of public investments, including
the Framework Programme, Innovation Partnerships, innovation measures
available under Rural Development Policy and the Structural Funds.
The Communication will foresee a balanced, coherent, and efficient
approach to foster bio-economy and to stimulate private investment.
It will underline the need for achieving synergies, while allowing
Member States to take their own initiatives according to the principle
of subsidiarity. The implementation of the bio-economy strategy
will require coordinated actions at EU and MS level.
Linking the world of practical knowledge and know-how
of farmers and business with research results and opportunities
emerging from technological development is a key to innovation.
New combinations of knowledge to improve business models are needed
to cope with new market opportunities and responding to demands
of society for public goods delivery. In this respect knowledge
networks need to complement agricultural advisory systems.
The Commission has taken up the challenge in several
research projects (see for instance projects such as www.insightproject.net,
and a ground-breaking workshop in Angers in 2008 (http://ec.europa.eu/research/agriculture/scar/pdf/anger/summary-report.pdf)
which led to the establishment of a SCAR Collaborative Working
Group on Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Systems. The final
report on AKIS is
expected end of 2011.
The Bio-Economy Communication will build on these
approaches and provide complementary options to enlarge farmers'
289 The most important legal acts are: Birds and Habitats
Directives; the Water Framework Directive (WFD); the Nitrates
Directive and the EU legislation on pesticides. Back
http://ec.europa.eu/research/consultations/bioeconomy/consultation en.htm Back