Land cover

Agricultural land (including natural grassland) accounts for almost half of the European territory (48%).

The Common Agricultural Policy

Professional family farms (5-250 hectares), which manage 67% of the farmland, receive 71% of the total direct aid.

Size of farms

The average farm in the EU-28 had 16 hectares of agricultural land in 2013.

Agricultural economic output

In 2017, the EU agricultural industry produced a total output value of € 427 billion, 50% of this value came from crops, 40% from livestock and the remainder from secondary activities.

Farmers’ income

Compared to the average wage in the overall economy, the entrepreneurial income per family work unit came to around 46% in 2017.


One in three farmers diversify their activities, 77% of these spend more time on the other gainful activity than on their agricultural work.

Farm demographics

Only 5.6% of all European farms are run by farmers younger than 35while more than 31% of all farmers are older than 65.

Farming sector's productivity

The sector's total factor productivity has been climbing over time - in 2017 it reached 109.5% of its level in 2005.


The share of agriculture in overall employment is in the area of 4%, representing 20.5 million full and part-time jobs.

Single market

In 2016, 72.7% of EU Member States’ exports of agri-food products were shipped to other EU neighbours that are part of the single market.

Eco-friendly practices

A large part of the EU agricultural area is being farmed according to specific eco-friendly practices. In 2018, 80% of EU farm land was subject to at least one of the CAP greening obligations.

Agri-food exports

In 2018, the value of EU trade in agri-food products (exports and imports) reached €253.1 billion representing 1/3 of the EU net trade balance.

Carbon sequestration

GHG emissions from agriculture have decreased by 24% in the last thirty years. The EU forestry sector absorbs the equivalent of almost 10% of EU GHG emissions each year.

Farmer cooperation

In the EU, there are 41,000+ producer organisations (POs), 22,000+ of which are cooperatives.

10 Key Challenges

Since the 1960s, Copa-Cogeca has been working tirelessly to protect the interests of European farmers, feeding the future of the European Union by providing safe, nutritious food, defending the climate, and leading the way in the development of a sustainable bioeconomy.

  • Ensure a fair standard of living for EU farmers while maintaining our family farming model;
  • Support biodiversity and ecosystem services while feeding half a billion people;
  • Reduce greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions while increasing carbon storage and sequestration;
  • Make EU farmers, forest owners and their cooperatives central players of the circular and bioeconomy;
  • Increase productivity in the context of climate change adaptation and mitigation;
  • Ensure that EU farming remains at the forefront when it comes to access to and uptake of digital, technological, biological and social innovations;
  • Keep rural areas vibrant and guarantee the generational renewal needed to avoid an increased rural/urban divide;
  • Develop a fair and sustainable trade policy that promotes and supports our continuous investment in high farming standards;
  • Address volatility in the agri-food chain and guarantee a fairer, more transparent and more efficient food supply chain;
  • Encourage the setting up and development of agri-cooperatives and producer organisations.

A Timeline of EU Agriculture

Copa and Cogeca have been working tirelessly to protect the interests of European farmers, feeding the future of the European Union by providing safe, nutritious food, defending the climate, and leading the way in the development of a sustainable bioeconomy.

The CAP enters into force 

The Mansholt Plan is presented 

The European Birds Directive enters into force 

Milk quotas introduced and support prices reduced to cope with overproduction 

Uruguay Round is launched 

Blair House Agreement between the US and the EU on export/domestic subsidies

The European Habitats Directive is launched and Natura 2000 is established

First regulation on GIs enters into force

MacSharry Reform of the CAP

The Cork Declaration 

Marrakesh agreement closes the Uruguay Round

The WTO is created

The Kyoto Protocol is approved 

Agenda 2000 and creation of the second pillar of the CAP 

Bovine traceability is introduced

The EU Water Framework Directive 

General Food Law Regulation and establishment of EFSA 

CAP Reform with decupling of direct aid from production and additional resources for rural development 

First renewable energy directive 

The Bioeconomy strategy is launched 

CAP reform introducing the greening of direct support

CETA is concluded between EU and Canada

Labelling is made mandatory for fresh, chilled or frozen swine, sheep, goats and poultry meat


CAP reform enters into force and dairy quota is phased out

UN 2030 agenda and Sustainable Development Goals

The European Commission adopts the Circular Economy Action Plan

Paris Agreement on Climate Change (COP21) 

The European Commission presents legislative proposals on CAP beyond 2020

Action plan on sustainable finance 

The Directive on Unfair Trading Practices is adopted

EU-Mercosur/EU-Japan trade deals are concluded 

Presentation of the European Green Deal 

Brexit withdrawal agreement 

Our vision

There can be no strong Europe without strong European agriculture and forestry. The challenges we are facing and the aspirations we have are inextricably connected. We can feed the future of the European Union, not only by providing nutritious and safe food, but through our role as defenders of the climate, as leaders in the bioeconomy and as custodians of the countryside. The fact that we fulfil these roles should not be taken for granted and needs to be fully recognised and supported.