Published December 31, 2020 | Version v1
Journal article Open

Policies for agroecology in Europe, building on experiences in France, Germany and the United Kingdom

  • 1. Thünen Institute of Farm Economics
  • 2. National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment (INRAE)


Agroecology, first conceptualised in the mid-1920s, has recently been attracting increasing interest as an alternative to more industrialised forms of agriculture. However, there is a lack of consistency in definitions of agroecology, ranging from an academic discipline to a movement for the socio-economic as well as ecological transformation of agriculture. There is also a lack of clarity as to its relationship with other alternative agricultural approaches that have many principles in common, such as conservation agriculture and organic farming. This conceptual fluidity creates tensions in debates, but also makes agroecology attractive to policy makers and scientists who may be less comfortable with more rigidly defined approaches. In this position paper, we explore some of the underlying issues and tensions, to see if it is possible to reach a common conceptualisation that can serve as basis for policy making. The authors have several decades of research experience in the development of organic farming and agroecology, and their integration into agricultural policy, both in their home countries and at the European level. Building on this, we explore how policy needs might be addressed within current proposed and planned European and national policy frameworks, with a focus primarily on the situation in France, Germany and the United Kingdom. Building on the case studies, this paper provides an updated, com-parative analysis of the status of agroecology in the frame of agricultural policy in Europe. It is divided into three parts: first, it iden-tifies multiple challenges regarding the concept of agroecology itself, including multiple and competing understandings of the concept. Second, it traces recent policy changes in the three case study countries and asks what these mean for agroecology in Europe. Thirdly, it makes a number of recommendations on what the status quo means for future agroecology policies and transformative potential, including mentioning new policies and their potential impact.



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UNISECO – Understanding and improving the sustainability of agro-ecological farming systems in the EU 773901
European Commission