The European Commission has not capitalised on the potential of big data for analysing and subsequently designing the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the European Court of Auditors has said in a report today. Although it holds large volumes of data relevant to the design, monitoring and evaluation of the CAP, its current tools and data do not provide certain essential information needed for well-informed policy-making at EU level. As a result, the Commission does not have enough evidence to comprehensively assess the CAP’s needs and impact.
The CAP accounts for more than a third of the EU’s budget – €408 billion between 2014 and 2020 – and helps the Commission support member states’ activities with objectives, often inter-related, ranging from securing food production and strengthening environmental protection to maintaining farmers’ livelihoods and developing rural areas. To determine whether its policy instruments efficiently address those objectives, the Commission needs data from a range of sources to establish a causal link between a CAP measure and its results.
“Data is the bread and butter of sound policy-making, and big data is also becoming the gold standard in agriculture,” said Joëlle Elvinger, the ECA member responsible for the report. “The European Commission should enhance its data analytics and do more to tap the potential of big data for analysing the CAP based on broad evidence.”