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Organic farming in Europe, data 2015

As of the end of 2015, 12.7 million hectares of agricultural land in Europe (European Union 11.2 million hectares) were managed organically by almost 350’000 producers (European Union almost 270’000). In Europe, 2.5 percent of the agricultural area was organic (European Union: 6.2 percent). Twenty-five percent of the world's organic land is in Europe. Organic farmland has increased by approximately one million hectares compared to 2014. The countries with the largest organic agricultural areas were Spain (almost 2 million hectares), Italy (1.5 million hectares), and France (1.4 million hectares). In nine countries at least 10 percent of the farmland is organic: Liechtenstein has the lead (30.2 percent), followed by Austria (21.3 percent) and Sweden (16.9 percent). Retail sales of organic products totalled approximately 29.8 billion euros in 2015 (European Union: 27.1 billion euros), an increase of 13 percent over 2014. The largest market for organic products in 2015 was Germany, with retail sales of 8.6 billion euros, followed by France (5.5 billion euros), and the UK (2.6 billion euros).  Despite the dynamic market growth, current trends indicate that production in Europe is not moving at the same speed, which presents several challenges for the future development of organic in Europe.

In Europe, all countries have an organic regulation or are drafting one. The revision of the European Union (EU) regulation on organic farming, which applies in all EU countries, was an important topic in 2016; twelve months after the start of trilogue negotiations on the European Commission’s legislative proposal between the European Parliament, Agriculture Council, and European Commission, talks remained deadlocked at the end of 2016. Positions amongst the EU Institutions and the member states themselves continue to diverge on key topics. The EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and similar programmes in other countries remain a key policy for the development of agriculture in Europe, including organic farming. Under the current CAP for the period 2014-2020 organic farming is supported by Pillar 1 (direct payments) and Pillar 2 (Rural Development Programmes). On the research end, in 2016, the European Technology Platform for Organic Food and Farming Research (TP Organics) published priority topics for the Work Programme 2018/2020 of Horizon 2020, the current research framework programme of the European Union.