A new classification of European Union regions: A decision support tool for policymakers

Rosa M. Fanelli


The classification of agricultural and territorial systems is essential to improve the comparability of regions for the development programmers of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), to give new tools of intervention to policymakers and to increase farmers’ knowledge. Analysis of the principal characteristics of these systems is essential during a time in which the new CAP is being designed for the period 2021-2027. The research is focused on the analysis of the agricultural features of 228 regional areas (NUTS 2) of the 28 European Union (EU) countries. It considers two specific sets of environmental and socio-economic indicators provided by the Farm Accountancy Data Network (FADN). The main factors that differentiate agricultural systems in EU regions from one another were identified with the application of principal component analysis, while the classification of the same regions in homogeneous groups was carried out through hierarchical cluster analysis. The results clearly show that some groups of “homogeneous” EU regions such as the Natura 2000 area and the family-run agricultural system, which have weaker agricultural structures than the average of the 228 EU regions considered in this study, have a greater need for the restructuring of their agricultural systems than others (e.g., the professional agricultural system and the food industry system). The results confirm that policy design should not consider EU agriculture as a whole, but should take into account the environmental and structural specificities of agricultural holdings, as well as the different training levels of farm managers.


agricultural systems; common agricultural policy; Farm Accountancy Data Network; hierarchical cluster analysis; indicators; principal component analysis

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DOI: 10.5424/sjar/2019171-13481