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Accession à l'Union européenne et données foncières en Europe centrale et orientale

L'Union européenne (UE) a entrepris un élargissement marqué vers l'Europe centrale et orientale. Huit pays de cette région ont été admis en 2004, il est prévu que deux autres pays soient admis en 2007, et un processus a été établi aux termes duquel les pays des Balkans occidentaux pourront à plus ou moins brève échéance adhérer à l'UE. Les pays ne peuvent entrer à l'UE que s'ils ont une économie de marché effective. Ils doivent aussi adopter et mettre en œuvre les principes du droit européen, qui recouvre des lois assurant la mobilité sans entraves des capitaux et des entreprises au sein de l'UE. Cela oblige les nouveaux États Membres à assouplir leurs marchés fonciers et permet l'accession d'entités étrangères à des droits fonciers et d'occupation foncière sur leur territoire national. Cet assouplissement risque d'exacerber les pressions sur les marchés fonciers des pays adhérant à l'UE, qui viennent s'ajoutera celles issues du processus de transition. Il est indispensable que les gouvernements surveillent les tendances en matière de régimes fonciers. Le droit européen exige que les États Membres recueillent les données foncières par le biais du Réseau d'information comptable agricole et du recensement agricole, et gèrent un registre des occupants de chaque parcelle de terre cultivable par l'entremise du Système intégré de gestion et de contrôle. Il existe quelques carences au niveau des données foncières de l'UE qui limitent leur capacité d'analyse des liens existant entre droits fonciers, pratiques agricoles et environnement ainsi que celle permettant de préciser quels groupes sociaux ont accès à la terre.

Incorporación a la Unión Europea y datos de titularidad territorial en Europa central y oriental

La Unión Europea (UE) ha acometido una importante expansión en Europa central y oriental. En 2004, ocho países de esta región se convirtieron en miembros, está previsto que en 2007 se conviertan en miembros dos países más, y se ha iniciado un proceso que posibilita el acceso de los países de los Balcanes occidentales a la UE. Se permite únicamente el acceso a la UE a los países en los que existen economías de mercado. Estos países también deben adoptar e implantar el cuerpo legislativo de la UE, que comprende leyes destinadas a garantizar la libre movilidad del capital y de las empresas dentro de la UE. Esto obliga a los nuevos Estados Miembros a liberalizar sus mercados agrícolas y a abrirlos a la propiedad y a la ocupación extranjera de las tierras. Es probable que la liberalización conlleve una mayor presión sobre los mercados agrícolas de los países que se incorporan a la UE, además de las presiones propias del proceso de transición. Es fundamental que los gobiernos supervisen las tendencias de la titularidad territorial. La legislación de la UE exige que los Estados Miembros recopilen los datos de tenencia agrícola a través de la Red de información contable agrícola y del censo agrícola, así como de un registro de los ocupantes de cada parcela agrícola a través de un Sistema de control y administración integrado. Hay insuficiencias en los datos de tenencia agrícola de la UE que limitan su utilidad para el examen de la relación entre la titularidad, las prácticas agrícolas y el entorno, y para el establecimiento de los grupos sociales que tienen acceso a la tierra.

European Union accession and land tenure data in Central and Eastern Europe

R. Grover

Richard Graver, Assistant Dean (Finance & Resources), School of the Built Environment,

Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, United Kingdom

The European Union (EU) has embarked upon a major expansion into Central and Eastern Europe. Eight countries from the region became members in 2004, two more are expected to become members in 2007 and a process has been established whereby the countries of the Western Balkans can eventually accede to the EU. Countries are only permitted to join the EU if they have functioning market economies. They must also adopt and implement the body of EU law, which includes laws to ensure the free mobility of capital and of enterprises within the EU. This obliges the new Member States to liberalize their land markets and open them up to foreign ownership and occupancy of land. Such liberalization is likely to place further pressures on the land markets of countries joining the EU, in addition to those that have resulted from the transition process. In these circumstances, it is essential that governments monitor land tenure trends. EU law requires Member States to collect land tenure data through the Farm Accountancy Data Network (FADN) and the agricultural census, as well as to maintain a register of the occupiers of each parcel of farmland through an Integrated Administration and Control System (IACS). The new Member States have been obliged to put these Systems in place as part of their preparation for EU accession. There are some weaknesses in EU land tenure data that limit their usefulness for examining the relationship between tenure, farm practices and the environment, and determining which social groups have access to land. The EU does not collect economic data about the state of the land market in a systematic way. Therefore, there is scope for EU land tenure data to be improved.


On 1 May 2004, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia, together with Cyprus and Malta, joined the European Union (EU) in its largest and most significant expansion to date. This brought the number of EU Member States to 25. This expansion of the EU brought in more countries and a greater combined population than any previous EU enlargement. Bulgaria and Romania are expected to join the EU in January 2007. Croatia and Turkey have been granted the status of candidate countries and negotiations on their entry began in October 2005. Under the stabilization and association process, a way has been opened that could eventually lead to EU membership for Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Serbia and Montenegro (including Kosovo).

The Copenhagen Council of 1993 set out three basic criteria for would-be applicants for EU membership.

Prior to accession, EU applicants have to demonstrate that they have adopted and implemented the body of EU law known as the acquis communautaire. For convenience in negotiations, this is divided into 31 Chapters. Of specific relevance to land tenure are Chapter 4 on the free mobility of capital, Chapter 7 on agriculture and Chapter 12 on statistics.


The countries of Central and Eastern Europe have been going through the transition from centrally planned to market economics. Accession to the EU can be regarded as the culmination of this process, since EU membership is possible only once a country has a functioning market economy and is able to open up its markets to foreign competition. Joining the EU means becoming a part of its single internal market, with freedom of trade, free convertibility of currencies and the free movement of labour, enterprise and investment replacing the controls and autarky that were an integral part of the former centrally planned economies.

A cornerstone of the transition process has been the creation of private ownership of land and secure land tenure and property rights (Rembold, 2003). Land markets, in which land can be bought, sold or rented, have been created through the privatization of state land and the restitution of expropriated land to its previous owners or their heirs. This has resulted in significant changes in land tenure, with an increase in the private ownership and the renting of land and the décline of state and cooperative land ownership. As Figure 1 shows, it is no longer possible to distinguish between the land tenure patterns of the current Member States by reference to whether or not they had been centrally planned economies in the past. For example, Slovenia and Latvia have owner occupation levels that are comparable with those found in Austria, Denmark and Italy, and actually higher than those in France, the Czech Republic, Germany or Slovakia.

The privatization and restitution of land have created millions of new land titles, many of them for small, badly shaped parcels of land incapable of commercial exploitation. Restituted land has often been divided among the heirs of the original owners. The consequences have included underinvestment in agriculture, rising rural poverty and rural unemployment, as well as an ageing rural population as the young migrate to urban areas in search of work (Kotov and Lingard, 2002). Subsistence farming has developed on small private plots, sometimes in response to the collapse of industrial employment and state budgets, producing the migration of industrial workers to rural areas in search of lower costs of living (Brown and Schafft, 2002). The development of the infrastructure for operating the land markets, such as land registration and titling, land laws and mortgage finance, has tended to lag behind privatization. Different countries, though, have had different experiences. For example, in Bulgaria restitution restored land to its former owners and their heirs, producing land fragmentation and smaller farms than at the end of the nineteenth century (FAO, 2003, Rembold, 2003). In the Czech Republic, by contrast, there has been a high level of leasing as many of the new owners either lacked the skills to farm their land or were no longer connected with agriculture (Ciaian, 2002).

Figure 1FIGURE 1
Proportion of utilized agricultural area farmed by owners, 2003

Source: Eurostat

In view of the enormous changes that have taken place in land markets during the transition process, an important issue is whether the applicant country's property markets, including its agricultural land markets, are adequately prepared for accession. Of particular concern is whether the processes of privatization and restitution are complete, whether there is adequate protection of property rights, and whether the legal framework for the buying and renting of real estate and the infrastructure to support the property market (such as land registration Systems) are adequately developed. Typical problems encountered (Commission of the European Communities, 2001; Commission of the European Communities, 2002; Pouliquen, 2001) include:

The EU does not have an absolute standard for determining whether a country has a functioning market economy, particularly in relation to real estate markets. These largely operate outside of the acquis because they tend to be the responsibility of Member States' governments rather than of the EU Commission. It can also be argued that the EU's monitoring and evaluation of the real estate markets of applicant countries have not been consistent or reflective of precise criteria. This may be because the acquis does not provide a clear point of reference in the way that it does when there are specifie laws that must be adopted and implemented. This could mean that countries may become members of the EU before their land market problems have been fully resolved, even though they have brought in the formal legal changes required by the acquis. New Member States may therefore have further work to do on improving the functioning of their land markets even after EU accession. For example, in Poland the restitution process remained restricted until legislation was finally approved in 2003.


The aim of the EU is political union by economic means. It has progressively achieved a closer economic union among the Member States, through the creation of the customs union and the single internal market. Chapter 4 of the acquis is concerned with a key aspect of the internal market, namely the free movement of capital. Restrictions on the movement of capital between Member States, and in many cases to and from countries outside the EU, are prohibited. The 1988 directive that established free mobility of capital, however, does contain a safeguard clause that enables a Member State, with the consent of the Commission, to restrict real estate transactions in the event of disruption of its monetary and exchange rate policies by short-term capital movements of exceptional magnitude. Although there is a mechanism by which a Member State experiencing problems in its real estate market as a result of the free mobility of capital can obtain temporary relief, preventing the liberalization of land markets is not an option.

Free movement of capital is not just about allowing free transfers of investment between Member States by individuals and companies or the free convertibility of currencies. It also means the removal of restrictions on the ownership of assets and liabilities by individuals and corporate bodies, implying that they must be able to acquire or rent ail forms of real estate, including agricultural land and secondary residences, in other countries of the EU. Freedom of enterprise means that farm businesses from one part of the EU must be able to relocate or acquire farms in other parts. Individuals and companies from elsewhere in the EU should not be prevented from owning land so that they are obliged to rent land if they wish to establish their business in the country. Nor can discriminatory restrictions be placed on the amount of land that can be owned or rented, because these undermine essential elements of the EU's internal market, including the free mobility of labour and investment and the freedom to establish enterprises. The only restrictions that could be tolerated are ones that apply in a non-discriminatory manner to citizens of and enterprises registered in the country as well as to those from other EU countries. However, these are likely to receive approval only in very exceptional circumstances.

A number of the new EU members from Central and Eastern Europe had restrictions on the ownership of agricultural land by foreigners, and sometimes also on ownership by domestic companies. Among the countries joining the EU in 2004 and 2007 that had restrictions on foreign ownership of land were Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania and Romania. The lifting of restrictions on foreign companies acquiring agricultural land also implies that any barriers to domestic companies purchasing land must also end. For example, a Hungarian act of 1994 limited the ownership of arable land by private individuals to 300 hectares in size, or 6 000 Gold Crowns in quality rating.

The issue of ownership of agricultural land and natural resources by foreigners is a contentious one for many of the applicant countries. There has been the fear that individuals and companies within the EU will take advantage of their greater wealth to buy up relatively cheap farmland and housing so that nationals of the applicant countries could find themselves priced out of their own land markets. For example, the Hungarian Government argued that lifting the ban on the purchase of agricultural land by foreigners “would lead to speculative land purchases and impede the development of viable family farms”.1 There may also be fears that the opening up of land markets could reopen past disputes. In the aftermath of the Second World War, there were large-scale movements of populations as particular ethnic groups, nationalities and political dissidents were expelled, fled or dispossessed of their land. Some of these prospered in their new homelands. They are now in a position to take advantage of the relatively low prices of their ancestral lands to purchase their lost heritage, even though they may have been frustrated in their attempts to reclaim it under restitution laws.


It has been recognized that the sudden liberalization of the rural land markets of countries joining the EU could be extremely destabilizing. Therefore, one of the areas in which transitional arrangements have been permitted after entry is rural land markets. It should be noted that these issues do not just apply to the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Cyprus has been permitted to retain restrictions on the ownership of secondary residences by non-residents for a five-year period after accession. Malta has been allowed to retain indefinitely its controls over the acquisition of secondary residencies by non-residents in recognition of the limited land on the island available for residential development.

Nor do such derogations just apply to the new EU Member States. Denmark has the right to maintain its controls over the acquisition of second homes, providing that EU nationals residing in Denmark have the same rights as Danish nationals. In the Åland islands of Finland, there are restrictions on who can acquire and hold real estate. These apply to natural and legal persons from ail Member States and do not give special rights to those from Finland. The key to these restrictions is that they do not confer any special rights and privileges on the citizens or legal persons of one Member State compared with those from elsewhere in the EU. While the EU recognizes that controls over land markets may be necessary in certain circumstances, they cannot be discriminatory.

The accession treaties governing the entry of the ten Central and Eastern European countries to the EU in 2004 and 2007 provide for three types of transitional arrangements with respect to real estate markets:

Although most of the Central and Eastern European countries have been granted transitional exemptions from opening up their rural markets, eventually rural land and secondary residential markets will be accessible to purchasers from elsewhere in the EU. The transitional periods are also relatively short. However, although cross-border purchases will become possible after the transitional periods, are they likely? Figure 2 shows that there are considerable differences in average land prices between the pre-2004 Member States. These do not appear to result in significant numbers of landowners in Italy or the United Kingdom, for example, using the greater value per hectare of their land to raise capital for purchasing farmland in, say, Finland or Sweden. It is likely that in an efficient land market there will be variability in prices per hectare that reflect differences in the productivity of land and its accessibility to markets. Under such circumstances, farmers are unlikely to migrate and establish businesses in new locations because the differences in land prices are likely to reflect differences in potential profits. Cheaper land may be obtained elsewhere in the EU, but higher costs of working it or lower productivity will counterbalance the savings in land costs. Conversely, higher productivity may be obtained from land elsewhere in the EU, but the benefits gained from higher revenues are likely to be fully absorbed by higher land costs.

Agricultural land prices in 2002 in selected countries and regions



The countries of Central and Eastern Europe, however, have not been part of a unified European land market and will not be until the transitional arrangements end. Access to these markets has been limited as a result of restrictions on foreigners acquiring land. Thus, differences in land prices between Western and Eastern Europe may not just reflect differences in productivity and access, but also the lower demand for land which may have resulted from restrictions on foreign ownership. Once these restrictions are removed, it is likely that there will be some rebalancing of portfolios as those who have been prevented from diversifying their ownership take advantage of the new openness of markets. After a time, the now unified European land market should reach an equilibrium in which differences in price just reflect differences in land productivity. However, as the transitional periods come to an end, the new EU Member States are likely to experience an influx of Western European farming businesses buying or renting farmland, attracted by lower production costs and land prices. They may also be attracted by historically lower levels of herbicide, pesticide and artificial fertilizer use, which lessens the costs of conversion to organic farming.

Figures 3 and 4 illustrate the possibility of businesses in Western Europe using their greater economic wealth to acquire land in Eastern Europe. For example, the average price per hectare of unequipped mixed farmland in Scotland, with the lowest prices among the United Kingdom regions, was 5 300 euros. By contrast, average prices of fertile land in the voivodships of Poland ranged from 1 600 to 3 100 euros per hectare. Discrepancies between land prices in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Latvia and those in Western Europe are similar (Vrbová, 2005; Popp and Stauder, 2003; Lebedinska, Petersone and Zarina, 2005). Such differences in land prices make the purchase of land by Western European investors feasible.

Prices of unequipped mixed farming land with vacant possession in the United Kingdom, 2005
 Source: United Kingdom Valuation Office Agency, 2005.
Prices of farmland in Poland by province, 2004  
 Source: Polish Central Statistical Office, 2004.

It can also be expected that housing, including farmhouses, housing for rural workers, and that in coastal and scenic areas, border regions and areas with winter or water sports, fishing or hunting, will be purchased as secondary residences by citizens from elsewhere in the EU or by companies and investors for tourist use. Such pressures are likely to be greatest in areas close to motorways or airports served by budget airlines. Many such properties are already being marketed to Western European purchasers. Many Western European countries experience similar pressures on residential property in comparable rural areas, which can result in local workers being priced out of housing markets.

The eventual granting of rights to foreign companies to acquire agricultural land implies that any remaining obstacles to domestic companies purchasing agricultural land must also be lifted. The phenomenon by which larger farming businesses are obliged to rent land on a short-term basis because they cannot legally own it will disappear. There could be profound changes in land ownership and land tenure as the transition periods come to an end. The use of devices such as options to purchase at a future date and the registering of purchases in the names of nominees may mean that these changes will be anticipated towards the end of the transition periods, even though the interests acquired may not be officially registered or appear in official statistics. There is some limited evidence of such practices already occurring. For example, from Hungary there are reports of land acquisitions by foreigners using methods of dubious legality (Popp and Stauder, 2003) and estate agents' reports from Romania talk of demand for land coming from foreign investors (Colliers International, 2005).


EU membership obliges countries to put in place some powerful tools for monitoring land tenure, namely:

Both FADN and the agricultural census collect data about the amount of utilized agricultural area that is owner-occupied, tenanted or sharecropped. They collect information at the level of the agricultural holding. IACS can provide the link between agricultural data and parcels of farmland. It collects area and location data for the parcels. It is important to note that none of the three tools is specifically concerned with land tenure data. Rather, land tenure data are produced as a by-product of collecting other information about agricultural production for use in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

The future of the CAP has come under discussion as a result of pressures from both within and outside the EU. A number of new members who joined in 2004 have a greater reliance on agriculture, which has raised questions about the size of future EU budgets and who will benefit from future aid to agriculture. Related questions of agricultural protectionism and export subsidies have been important factors in the G8 discussions about world poverty and in the World Trade Organization's Doha Round of tariff reductions. Ail of these discussions have raised fundamental questions about the future of the CAP and of the tools used to support it. Could changes in the CAP result in the abandonment of the European land tenure tools? A number of Member States meet their obligations to supply data to FADN and the agricultural census using instruments that pre-date the CAP. For example, Britain has carried out an annual agricultural census since 1866 (MAFF, 1968) and its Farm Business Survey, which collects data for FADN, was established in 1936. This would suggest that the instruments are robust, versatile and capable of an independent existence apart from the CAP. Information about the economic viability of agriculture, productivity, food security, farm structures and land tenure is of considerable value to governments that need to formulate agricultural, environmental and rural development policies, which is why the means used to satisfy EU data requirements often pre-date the CAP.

Under FADN, data are collected at the farm holding level about revenue, costs, inputs, outputs and employment for an accounting year (European Commission Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development, 2005). This is used to generate standard gross margins, which estimate the income generated by each farming enterprise by measuring the value of the output less the variable costs directly attributable to the enterprise. In other words, it measures the contribution the enterprise makes to the payment of overhead costs and farm profits. Farm income can then be derived by deducting overheads, payments for external resources, depreciation and taxes, while adding in grants and subsidies. Information is also collected about the proportion of the utilized agricultural area that is owned, rented or sharecropped. FADN is a rich source of data that makes possible analyses of the relationship between land tenure and farming incomes, types of production, sizes of farm, the amount of bank borrowing undertaken and net worth.

FADN is concerned with commercial farms. Regulations define the minimum size of holding considered to be commercial, rather than part-time or subsistence. These vary between Member States, and currently range from 1 European Size Unit (ESU) in Cyprus to 16 ESU in the United Kingdom (excluding Northern Ireland). One ESU equals 1 200 euros of standard gross margin. The Central and Eastern European countries that joined the EU in 2004 were given thresholds of 2 ESU, except for the Czech Republic (4 ESU) and Slovakia (6 ESU). The data exclude any non-farming activities of the holder or the holder's family, other than forestry and tourism connected with the farm. This exclusion means that FADN does not provide comprehensive information on standards of living of agricultural households, except where those households derive their entire income from the holding.

A number of issues have arisen with FADN and the data derived from it that have implications for the extent to which the data can be relied upon. They are not exclusive to the countries from Central and Eastern Europe, but are applicable to the whole of the EU. The quality of FADN has been reviewed by the European Court of Auditors (2003). The United Kingdom and Denmark have also examined the quality of the statistics they provide for FADN (MAFF, 2000; University of Hull, 2000; Sørensen, 1999).

The level of detail required means that the data can only be collected for a sample of holdings. Analyses for regions and small areas are not feasible because sample sizes are too small to produce robust data at the subnational level. With any sampling System, the value of the data depends upon how representative the sample is and the quality of the sampling process. Liaison agencies for each Member State are responsible for drawing the samples and collecting the data. The quality of the data depends upon that of the sample, and there is some evidence that practices vary between Member States (European Court of Auditors, 2003). In countries such as the United Kingdom, where participation is voluntary, it is difficult to get farmers to take part because of the demands upon them. The need for farmers to gain experience of what is required before they are able to supply data of the required quality, low renewal rates and problems in finding replacements means that there may be biases in the sample and an element of self-selection. The use of tax rather than farm management accounts overcomes the problem of low participation rates, but can introduce biases into the accounting data as a result of definitions and accounting conventions being based on tax law and, possibly, management decisions reflecting tax-avoidance strategies. There are also questions about how well suited the methodology is to gathering data from the growing number of farms run by companies rather than individual farmers.

Developing FADN has involved some of the countries from Central and Eastern Europe in considerable work, which includes creating the surveys of farms necessary to generate the data, adopting the necessary legal framework and applying EU data standards, methods and concepts. Typical problems are:

Member States are obliged to carry out a comprehensive survey of agricultural holdings or an agricultural census every ten years and three interim surveys each decade. The most recent comprehensive survey was in 1999/2000, with interim surveys in 2003, 2005 and 2007. Data are collected about crops, livestock, farm labour, machinery and the amount of the utilized agricultural area that is owner-occupied, tenanted or sharecropped. Information is also collected about certain non-agricultural activities carried out on the holding, such as tourism, handicraft, the processing of farm products and contract work using the holding's equipment. The agricultural census makes possible comparative analyses of land tenure between different areas and over time, and these can be undertaken for relatively small geographical areas. The main issues arising with the agricultural census are:

There is a growing trend for agricultural businesses to comprise more than one holding. A recent British study of the changing structure of agricultural businesses has argued that the growth of varied tenure arrangements and whole-farm contracting “means that the holdings-based data have less and less relevance to monitoring the extent of farm business change” (Lobley et al, 2002). A holdings-based survey can give the impression that the larger businesses are smaller than they really are. Aggregate figures for land that is rented can conceal divergent trends of economic significance. For example, in England between 2000 and 2003 the amount of rented land hardly changed, increasing from 3.42 to 3.49 million hectares. This conceals a decline in traditional full agricultural tenancies and an increase in more flexible arrangements, such as farm business tenancies (Defra, 2005).

The issues that have arisen with the introduction of the agricultural census in Central and Eastern Europe include:

There has been considerable cooperation between EU bodies, such as Eurostat, and existing Member States and the applicant countries. Support has also been given by international bodies such as FAO.

Member States of the EU are responsible for administering the CAP. This has recently changed from being a System for supporting agricultural production to one of providing income support for the land. Central to the agricultural support payments is the IACS, which is intended to ensure that the payments made are correct and traceable. This requires Member States to establish Land Parcel Information Systems that identify each parcel of farmland. These contain data about the location and size of each parcel, the identity of the holder, date of establishment, date of last activation and whether it was acquired by purchase, lease or inheritance. The System has to be able to identify whether a claim is made from an individual or legal person who is permitted to make one, that multiple claims are not being made for any piece of land and that the land is part of the utilized agricultural area. Because land can be transferred between farmers and agricultural land parcels may be joined together or divided, or land removed from the utilized agricultural area, the System must contain means by which the registers are updated without compromising the integrity of the data.

Both FADN and the agricultural census produce information based on farm holdings. These do not give the precise geo-coordinates of the data. IACS is capable of generating parcel-level information with its coordinates; however, it does not produce land tenure data, because it is concerned with the payment of aid to the occupier and not with the ownership of the land. Information about farmland parcels from IACS has to be merged with tenure data from other sources in order to produce a land tenure database. IACS, though, is of particular value in spatial planning because of its ability to provide geo-referencing of the data.


Although joining the EU is likely to create problems for the land markets of its new members, it also provides some powerful tools to monitor and understand changes in land markets and to inform the development of land tenure policy. The quality of land tenure data available to new Member States should be improved by the requirement to collect such data for FADN and the agricultural census. The IACS System provides data on the sizes and locations of agricultural land parcels and their occupiers. There are, however, a number of weaknesses in the EU's approach, which may mean that it fails fully to reflect changing circumstances in agriculture and rural society.


The EU's single internal market raises questions about land tenure for EU members because of the eventual liberalization of land markets that new members must accept. The adoption of the acquis does create some powerful land-tenure data tools through FADN, the agricultural census and IACS. However, the land tenure data that results from them leave some important questions unanswered, which calls for further development of the EU's land tenure data in the interests of ail Member States and not just those from Central and Eastern Europe.

The EU should collect data for FADN and the agricultural census by agricultural enterprises rather than by holdings so that the emphasis is placed upon businesses rather than farms. It should use these sources to collect information about production methods and their environmental impact so that the role of land tenure in determining these can be examined. Better data are needed about farmers, including their ethnicity and socio-economic status, in order to understand which groups have access to land. Member States should be required to collect data on land prices, land transactions and rents in a standardized form that the EU can publish in order to provide a clearer picture, at regular intervals, of the state of the land market.

Member States could collect additional data through FADN and the agricultural census over and above what are required by the EU. This provides an opportunity to collect data about different tenancy arrangements, as these vary between countries. Even if there is no agreement at the EU level on collecting data about the social characteristics of farmers, land prices and rents and the impact of farming methods on the environment, individual Member States could still do so.

The countries joining the EU need to prepare for the liberalization of their land markets. The impact is likely to vary between areas because of such factors as different opportunities to develop agriculture, tourism and rural industries, the potential for inward investment, and competition for land and rural housing from incomers. Governments should therefore prepare spatial planning policies for each rural area that reflect their opportunities and strengths and the threats to them from liberalization. Entry to the EU is likely to bring greater competition, so governments need to pursue policies to encourage rural businesses to become more competitive and engage in diversification.


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Vrbová, E. 2005. Land market development in the Czech Republic. Paper presented at the FAO/Slovak University of Agriculture Regional Workshop on the Development of Land Markets and Related Institutions in Countries of Central and Eastern Europe - Experiences, Approaches, Lessons Learned, 6–7 May, Nitra, Slovakia (available at

1 Quoted on the former Web site of the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs: (accessed on 30 August 2002).

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