Economic and environmental impact of the Community Plant Variety Rights System

CO2 emissions from agriculture must be reduced in the coming years to help achieve the goals of the European Green Deal. Other environmental considerations call for less intensive use of pesticides, fertilizers, and other chemicals, while at the same time maintaining and increasing food production to cope with the demands of the European and global markets. Not least due to the Russian war in the Ukraine, the value and relevance of regional agriculture for food security in Europe becomes even more visible.


The resulting multifaceted demands from politics and the society at large can foremost be met by creating new varieties of crops that use fewer resources while at the same time enhancing productivity of agriculture. These new varieties must also be able to cope with changing climate conditions and related challenges of weather extremes as well as new forms of pests. A great deal of innovation in breeding of plant varieties is therefore required to address these changing conditions for agricultural growers in the European Union (EU) and beyond.


Against this background, HFFA Research GmbH was commissioned by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) to contribute to the joint publication of the EUIPO and the Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO) Impact of the Community Plant Variety Rights System on the EU Economy and the Environment.


The project team of HFFA Research GmbH, consisting of Dr. Steffen Noleppa, Matti Cartsburg, Katarina von Witzke, and Lina Staubach, contributed significantly to chapters 2 (Literature review), 3 (Methodology and data) as well as 4 (Quantitative results – farmers/growers) of the publication, which was published on 28 April 2022. An interim report was already presented in December 2021 by HFFA Research GmbH to the responsible staff members from EUIPO and CPVO during a visit at the headquarters of EUIPO in Alicante, Spain.

As stressed by EUIPO and CPVO, the now published study is the first of its kind to assess in a holistic way the impact of the Community Plant Variety Rights (CPVR) system in the EU. The results of the analysis from HFFA Research GmbH highlight the very significant contributions made by the CPVR system to the economy and to the environment during the past 25 years, thereby supporting the EU’s agricultural, broader economic and environmental goals. The main findings of the publication can be summarized as follows:


  1. In the absence of the CPVR system, in 2020 production of arable crops in the EU would be 6.4% lower, production of fruit would be 2.6% lower, and that of vegetables 4.7% lower.
  2. The output of ornamentals would be 15.1% lower.
  3. Without the added production attributable to CPVR-protected crops, the EU’s trade position with the rest of the world would worsen (for some crops, the EU might even switch from being a net exporter to a net importer), and EU consumers would face higher food prices.
  4. The annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agriculture and horticulture are reduced by 62 million tons per year. This corresponds to the total GHG footprint of Hungary, Ireland or Portugal.
  5. CPVR-protected crops generate higher employment in the EU agriculture. The arable crops sector employs 25 000 additional workers as a result, the horticulture sector 19 500, and the ornamentals sector 45 000 additional workers, for a total direct employment gain of almost 90 000 jobs.
  6. Many of the companies protecting their innovations with CPVRs are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). These small companies account for more than 90% of the registrants of CPVRs and hold 60% of all CPVRs currently in force.


To launch and present the results of the publication, CPVO hosted a policy seminar during its policy conference called “Plant Variety Protection: the path towards more sustainability, innovation and growth in the European Union”. The seminar took place as an official event of the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union in Angers (France). During the conference and the web-based livestream, representatives from European Institutions, French authorities, the breeding industry, SMEs, academics, and a broad range of other stakeholders participated – making up several hundred participants from all over Europe. The recordings are available on the CPVO YouTube Channel.


The full publication in English can be downloaded here.

An executive summary in English and French is also available.


For more information about the project, please contact or


Legal notification: Kindly note that the opinions expressed hereby are those of HFFA Research GmbH only and do not necessarily represent the EUIPO’s or CPVO’s official position.