In this study, the elements of competitiveness of the EU beef sector are assessed using the value chain approach. Consequently, the impact of the external factors represented by domestic policy and foreign trade policy is discussed, with the aim of deriving recommendations for policy makers. It is shown that investing in collaborative supply chains can improve the disadvantaged position of beef producers, which have the least power in the supply chain. Furthermore, the domains of science and innovation provide several opportunities that could be further explored, namely improving the logistics of the supply chain and developing more tailored quality systems. The main threats stem from potential free trade agreements, climate change and the internal competition between other agricultural crops. Better targeting of the CAP and environmental aspects are suggested to maintain the competitiveness of European beef producers.