Synthesis of impacts of agricultural policies on sustainable development in the European Union


Farm models are in theory relevant tools to evaluate different policy options with respect to their impacts. Impact assessment is an ex-ante process, procedure and method to evaluate impacts of policy options across a range of impact areas as part of the introduction of new policies. Impact assessment is increasingly used by governments and international organizations. In 2002, the European Commission (EC) established the instrument of ex-ante policy impact assessment (IA) to promote better regulation and to improve the quality and transparency of regulation. IAs aim to support sustainable development by assessing the likely intended and unintended economic, social and environmental impacts of a range of policy options including the no policy option. 

Currently, developments in the policy and science side are to some extent happening in parallel. For example, the IA report on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) extensively assessed impacts of different policy options, but used few models, and did not refer to any scientific article. At the science side, a large amount of scientific articles have been published that have assessed the impact of agricultural policies on sustainable development in the European Union with farm models. However, while scientific evidence is available, the use in policy making and in IAs specifically is still limited. One of the reasons mentioned for the limited use of scientific evidence in policy-making, is the fact that a systematic synthesis of evidence is lacking (e.g. like in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).

The objective of this MSc thesis is to synthesize impacts of agricultural policies (e.g., decoupling of direct payments, rural development, water framework directive, nutrient directive, climate change adaptation) across the European Union, and compare these to the impacts as presented in the IA report on the Common Agricultural Policy, and other relevant IAs. A database including 202 articles using farm models is already available.

Type of work

A review of scientific articles and reports.


Authors of articles may be contacted, but no formal collaboration is envisaged.


Students with an interest in interdisciplinary work, and farm modelling. Completion of the course PPS-30306 Quantitative Analysis Land Use Systems. 

Time/ Location  

Anytime; Wageningen. 


Pytrik Reidsma                                   0317-48 55 78