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Science, governance and multifunctionality of European agriculture

The European Research Area (ERA) initiative is particularly relevant to agriculture and to the issues of science and governance. European policy development for agriculture increasingly focuses on multifunctionality as its target and its organizing principle. At all levels - regional, national, European and international - Europe will need creative and constructive policy thinking based on evidence from both social and natural sciences, integrated across the various research disciplines. This will provide the internal coherence and consistency that will give Europe the important voice it warrants in international negotiations. This paper notes some of the challenges and opportunities faced by European agriculture, particularly in coping with the major issues of enlargement of the EU, reform of the CAP and WTO negotiations on trade liberalization for agricultural products. The concept of multifunctionality, with its close links to sustainable development, will be an important strand in decision making on all these issues. However, Europe's agricultural system as a whole needs to be not just sustainable, but thriving on all levels if we are to achieve genuine multifunctionality. This will require a more constructive approach to technological innovation than is currently the case.